Egyptian Antiquities Minister, Mamdouh El-Damati, has asked the Egyptian Embassy, located in London, to take legal action to prevent the sale of the Sekhemka Statue currently residing in Northampton Museum.
It was announced on April 28th that a statue depicting Sekhemka, a court official and scribe during the fifth Dynasty, is to be sold by Christie’s Auction House on Thursday 10th July. It was back in December 2013 that Northampton Borough Council took a vote to sell the Egyptian artifact in order to create funds to reinvest in other cultural projects. It has been estimated that the limestone statue will sell for a staggering £4-£6 million pounds. A spokeswoman from the museum has said that after investigation, it has been found that Egypt has no right to reclaim the statue.
However, El-Damati has denounced the decision made by Northampton Museum, claiming that it is against the values of museums world wide as they should act as vessels to spread culture, rather than businesses searching for a profit. As well as contacting the Egyptian Embassy El-Damati has also called upon the International Council of Museums (ICOM) as a final attempt to save the statue.
Lord Northampton’s family donated the statue to the Northampton Museum over 100 years ago where it has been attracting tourists ever since. The 30 inch tall limestone statue is one of the central attractions of the museum and will be sorely missed by its visitors searching for information on one of the most popular periods of history.
If the statue does sell Lord Northampton will receive 45% of the sale, with Northampton Borough Council receiving an astounding 55%. After much controversy David Mackintosh stated: “We are looking forward to selling the statue and looking at how best to invest the money in the cultural future of this town.”
According to residents of the town the money simply will not be a good enough substitute. The locals of Northampton have formed an action group to save their beloved statue. Along with this they have created a Facebook campaign called ‘Save Sekhemka Action Group’.
They are currently attempting to raise funds to hire a barrister to help in their campaign. The group is particularly worried about the negative aspects associated with the private sales of ancient artifacts. It is known that private sales promote looting, smuggling and corruption in the heritage industry and it would be unfortunate for the Sekhemka statue to be associated with such crimes.
Header Image Source: Save Sekhemka Action Group