This 4500-year-old Egyptian painted limestone statue topped last week’s summer series of Old Masters and works of art sales in London.
Billed as one of the most important Egyptian sculptures to come
to market, and remarkable for its quality, near perfect condition
and impeccable provenance, the 2ft 5in (75cm) sculpture from the
Old Kingdom (c.2400-2300BC) sold at Christie's evening Exceptional
sale on July 10 for £14m.
From the inscription to the base the main figure was a man
called Sekhemka, the Inspector of the scribes of the royal court,
accompanied by his wife, Sitmerit, at his feet and their son carved
in shallow relief by his other leg. It was consigned by Northampton
Borough Council to help fund a £14m extension to Northampton Museum
and Art Gallery, although the sale's proceeds will be shared with
Lord Northampton, whose family presented the statue to the museum
It was believed to have originally come from Egypt with the 2nd
Marquess of Northampton in 1849-50.
While Arts Council England warned the museum it could lose its
accreditation status, Egypt's Antiquities Ministry had
also challenged the sale. Around ten protesters demanding the
trade in ancient Egyptian artefacts is stopped gathered outside
Christie's in King Street prior to the auction, and as bidding got
under way on the lot in the saleroom, a protester interrupted
auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen shouting "nobody should bid, nobody
should buy it, this belongs to my country".
Bidding resumed soon after and quickly rose above the £4m-6m
estimate with six bidders active in the room and on the phones.
The battle came down to two phones before it was knocked down
for a price that, with premium of 25/20/12%, is a world record for
an ancient Egyptian work of art at auction according to
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