246 pieces of Mohamed Ali dynasty jewelry confiscated: authorities
One piece of jewelry - Photo courtesy of ministry of tourism

CAIRO: Egypt has recovered a set of 246 pieces of jewelry that belonged to the Mohamed Ali dynasty that was deposited in a bank safe box by an attendant of the late King Farouk (1920-1965) in the 1970s.

Investigations carried out by the Tourism and Antiquities Police Department (TAPD) revealed that the jewelry had been in the possession of a man named Ali, a widower of one of King Farouk’s royal attendants who deposited the jewelry in Banque Misr before she died in the 1970s. Ali contacted several antiques dealers in an attempt to sell what he claimed were Mohamed Ali dynasty jewelry, TAPD head Maj. Gen. Momtaz Fathy said in a press conference Sunday.

Mohamed Ali was an Ottoman Albanian commander in the Ottoman army, who became Wali, and self-declared Khedive of Egypt and Sudan from 1805 to 1848. His descendants ruled Egypt until 1952, when Gamal Abdel Nasser led a military coup against the royal family and exiled King Farouk to Italy.

In 1954, Nasser nationalized the personal belongings and lands of the royal family, but it seems several members of his royal court were able to keep some of the jewelry, Supreme Antiquities Council Secretary-General Mostafa Amin told The Cairo Post Sunday.

“TAPD in coordination with the Ministry of Antiquities requested the attorney general issue a warrant so that an archaeological committee could examine the jewelry deposited in the bank safe box,” Fathy said in comments at the press conference.

Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Antiquities Ministry’s Central Administration of Modern Era Antiquities, released a report in November 2013 affirming that the pieces date back to the era of the Mohamed Ali dynasty.

The jewelry first came to the attention of authorities last year, but only now has the government released the findings of its investigations.

“The committee was able to confirm the origins of the pieces from the first sight,” Abbas said. “By examining them closely, we were able to identify the stamps bearing the names of artists who crafted them.

“In the Royal Jewelry Museum in Alexandria, there are several pieces belonging to the Mohamed Ali dynasty’s members with stamps bearing the same names of artists,” he added.

The antiquities are subject to the 1983 Law 117 on the Protection of Antiquities and its amendments in 2010, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said in a press conference held Sunday at the TAPD’s headquarters.

“Since the pieces have no provenance—a document that traces an artifact’s chain of ownership back to its excavation—the seized jewelry belongs to the Egyptian State, according to the law,” said Damaty, adding that the pieces will remain in the bank until the case is finalized.

Abbas said the pieces include a platinum bracelet encrusted with diamonds likely belonging to the collections of King Farouk’s mother, Queen Nazli (1894- 1978), in addition to a platinum necklace studded with diamonds.

The collection also includes a platinum brooch inlaid with diamonds that belonged to Princess Shwikar (1876–1947), the first wife of King Fouad (1868-1936), in addition to a set of platinum earrings studded with diamonds.

Additionally, Abbas said a solid 44-carat diamond—purported to be the third largest in the world—is among the collection.

Ali—the man who attempted to sell the jewelry—will not face any charges as it was his late wife, and not he, who deposited the jewelry in the bank, Fathy said.

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