Egypt challenges a UK auctioneer over 200 stolen antiquities

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Egypt challenges a UK auctioneer over 200 stolen antiquities

Post by DJKeefy »

Egypt notified the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) on Wednesday that a collection of more than 200 allegedly "stolen" Egyptian antiquities are on auction at London's privately-owned Bonhams.

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It appears the Interpol is in contact with relevant authorities in the United Kingdom (UK). The Repatriation of Antiquities Department (RAD) at Egypt's Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) is also following the issue with the Interpol officials.

On the other hand, Bonhams strongly believes the objects on auction have not been stolen from Egypt.

"We are satisfied with the provenance of the Egyptian art on sale,” Julian Roup, Bonhams' director of press and marketing, told Ahram Online.

However, the Egyptian Ambassador to London Ahraf Alkhouly complained to the company, asking it to put on hold the Egyptian artefacts auction.

"I explained to them that Egypt has reservations on the sale of some of the Egyptian items," Alkhouly told Ahram Online.

Alkhouly added that he is still waiting for the RAD of the MSA to send him the documents which claim the items on sale were stolen.

The objects include an Egyptian polychrome painted wood sarcophagus fragment (664-30 B.C); a limestone fragmentary royal stele for King Merenptah (19th Dynasty, 1212-1201 B.C.); a bronze cat (600 B.C) and a bronze seated figure of Neith (Late Period, 664-332 B.C).

"We always take enormous care to ascertain the provenance of all the items we sell," Roup said.

"Bonhams works closely with all the relevant authorities, including the Egyptian Embassy in London with whom we have a very good relationship. Any auctioneer in the UK is committed to contact the British Police's Art and Antiques Unit, the Arts registry, and Interpol to check the provenance of its exhibits," he explained.

"If Interpol believes there is cause for concern about the Egyptian objects, then they will no doubt approach the relevant authorities in the UK with whom we work closely. We have heard nothing from the authorities," Roup said.

Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/70497.aspx


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Re: Egypt challenges a UK auctioneer over 200 stolen antiqui

Post by Bullet Magnet »


On the other hand, Bonhams strongly believes the objects on auction have not been stolen from Egypt.



Well, they certainly were not found on Blackpool beach !!! :ni:

I doubt Bonhams will want to miss out on any commission.....Wot ??? :br Kerching !!!! :mo
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Re: Egypt challenges a UK auctioneer over 200 stolen antiqui

Post by Zooropa »

Does not mean they were stolen though bullet.

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Re: Egypt challenges a UK auctioneer over 200 stolen antiqui

Post by Brian Yare »

They could have been exported legally, but not in the last 40 years or so. That is why provenance is important.

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Re: Egypt challenges a UK auctioneer over 200 stolen antiqui

Post by Dusak »

Or they could of been bought on the souk last week if the so called experts are to be believed when they impounded 'artifacts' from Mohamed's gift shop a couple of months back at Cairo airport stating that it was one of the best illegal attempted export finds in years. I wonder if she still has her job. Probably works in Mohamed's shop now.
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Re: Egypt challenges a UK auctioneer over 200 stolen antiqui

Post by Bullet Magnet »

Zooropa wrote:Does not mean they were stolen though bullet.
That is true, but they are Egyptian, and belong in Egypt in my opinion..

Many artefacts were taken during the colonial days, but that would not be tolerated now, so I think it is only fair that they come back to their rightful home.
I just fail to see how anyone can legitimately "own" a piece of Egyptian history since it was never anyone's to take out of the country or to sell.

My Take on the situation., :|
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Re: Egypt challenges a UK auctioneer over 200 stolen antiqui

Post by Zooropa »

I agree Bullet, to an extent.

Egypt was quite prepared to sell off a lot of its heritage for various reasons.

Any such items that have found their way onto the open market should not be handed back.

My money is rightfully mine but I waive all rights to it if I decide to spend it.

Any items taken outside of this arrangement should rightfully be returned.

The Rosetta Stone for example has no place in the British Museum and its to our shame and embarrassment that we still adopt a somewhat colonial attitude to requests to have it returned.

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Re: Egypt challenges a UK auctioneer over 200 stolen antiqui

Post by Who2 »

The objections from the Egyptian Dept of 'whatever has just given this sale the provenience it requires and the advertising to sell any old s**t be it real or copyists, who knows or who really cares, arse-holes will buy and there is one born every minute so, stop moaning and let idiots buy whatever they want and screw the Egyptian Antiquities Dept, the biggest thieves in the business.
It's an Art thing, it's all boll***s anyway...:cool:
PS: "any body wanna buy old egyptian stuff, Iv'e loads of it round the back, dirt cheap!
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Re: Egypt challenges a UK auctioneer over 200 stolen antiqui

Post by Hafiz »

This type of stuff happens often yet no vendor/auction house seems to be criminally prosecuted in the west. I wonder why? Surely the vendor knew or should have known that the object was illegally obtained.

What happened to the offense of 'handling' which didn't require a lot of evidence about actual knowledge of theft and was therefore easy to prove.

I also wonder how this situation can ever arise - auction houses go to great lengths to establish provenance and good provenance determines authenticity and its value. If the provenance is dodgy the object is cheap or if sold with a fraudulent providence will likely need to be returned. In that case the purchaser will loose their money/object vendor or auction house could be sued by the buyer or prosecuted.

In most cases, especially with museums, they also undertake their own research on the chain of ownership so that they don't do their money like the museum in NYC that recently had to return 2 Cambodian statues.

A few salutary criminal prosecutions of Western vendors and auction houses could only do good. Bet the vendors are posh and not an Arthur Daley type and bet that Bond Street sees itself as well beyond the criminal law. Bit like the bankers. A few convictions of auctioneers and museum staff would do wonders to stop demand.

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Re: Egypt challenges a UK auctioneer over 200 stolen antiqui

Post by Ra-Mont »

It's possible that the baboon figure in the photo (top right) might just have come from Serabit el-Khadem on Sinai. A statue like it is visible on some older on-line photos of the site standing just outside the small Sopdu cave, yet when I visited just over a year ago that baboon wasn't there.

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Re: Egypt challenges a UK auctioneer over 200 stolen antiqui

Post by Chocolate Eclair »

Ho9w are these things getting past Security? or is that a stupid question to ask?

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