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The Egyptian Sekhemka statue (2,400-2,300bce)
We’ve run several features on the controversial sale, last year, of the Egyptian statue of Sekhemka (type Sekhemka in the search box above to find them) but for those who might not know the history of the statue here’s a brief summary –
The statue dates from 2,400-2,300bce and shows the Egyptian royal chief, judge and administrator reading a scroll while his wife kneels by his side. It was gifted to the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery by the 4th Marquis of Northampton in 1880. Last year it was removed from the Museum by Northampton Borough Council (amidst protestations from the Egyptian authorities, the Museums Association and others) and put up for sale at Christie’s in London where it sold to an unknown buyer for £15,762,500. The proceeds were then shared with the present Lord Northampton (the Eton-educated peer whose fortune is estimated at £120m and which includes two stately homes, land, valuable paintings, furniture and a disputed Roman treasure hoard). Lord Northampton received 45% of the proceeds, Northampton Borough Council the rest and Christie’s a handsome commission. The sale resulted in the Council being banned from the Museums Association and has also had a Heritage Lottery Fund bid rejected as a consequence. The statue itself has not been seen in public since.
If all this were not bad enough we learn today (see BBC News Services here ) that only a temporary export ban has been place on the statue. Why only a temporary ban? Surely an object of such beauty and importance should not only stay in this country but should be on public display – as it once formerly was.


March 2015
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