UK Government issues Export Ban on Sekhemka Statue
Northampton Sekhemka Statue - AFP/Leon Nea

CAIRO: A temporary export ban has been imposed on the 4,200-year-old ancient Egyptian statue of Sekhemka, which was sold in the U.K.’s Christie’s auction house in July, according to the BBC Monday.

British Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced a four-month temporary export ban on the figure following a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA,) administered by the Arts Council England, BBC reported Monday.

“The RCEWA made their recommendation on the grounds that it was of outstanding aesthetic importance; that it was of outstanding significance for the study of the development of private statuary and funerary religion in Egypt and the history of human self-representation; and that it was very closely connected with our history and national life,” said RCEWA in a Monday statement.

On July 11, the Northampton Borough Council sold the limestone statue of Sekhemka, from the Northampton Museum & Art Gallery collection, at an auction by Christie’s for £15,762,500 ($23.3 million.)

The council said it intended to share the proceeds with Lord Northampton, whose ancestors donated the statue to the museum, and to use its share of the proceeds to fund a £14m extension of the museum.

A month later, the move caused the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery to lose its accreditation and it was barred from the membership in the U.K. Museum Association (MA) for a minimum period of five years.

Arts Council England said the ban would be extended for a year until March 2016 “if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase the statue is made.”

The Save Sekhemka Action Group stated  Monday it is “delighted that the Government has imposed a temporary export ban on the Statue of Sekhemka and we fervently hope that this will be upheld as a permanent ban on 29 July and Sekhemka, an internationally important work of Egyptian Art, will find a home in a public museum where it belongs.”

The 4,500-year-old statue was acquired by the second Northampton Marquees Spencer Joshua Alwyne Campton in Egypt between Sep. 1849 and April 1850, according to the house’s website.

The statue was then presented to the Northampton Museums and Art Gallery by the third Marquees Charles Douglas-Campton.

In December 2013, the Northampton Borough Council voted in favor of selling the statue, which had been a central piece of the town’s museum for 150 years, to Christie’s.

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