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 Crisis at Christie’s: the Sale of the Statue of Sekhemka and

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MensajeTema: Crisis at Christie’s: the Sale of the Statue of Sekhemka and   Vie Jul 11, 2014 2:35 pm

http://thomasgreiner.com/2014/07/10/crisis-at-christies-the-sale-of-the-statue-of-sekhemka-and-its-implications-on-cultural-heritage/

Crisis at Christie’s: the Sale of the Statue of Sekhemka and its Implications on Cultural Heritage



As a citizen of Canada and resident of Toronto, Ontario, I have the privilege to live in a city with plenty of museums and amazing cultural heritage. This privilege ranges from ongoing festivals, which celebrate diversity and the multiculturalism that our city is known for to outstanding museum collections such as the Royal Ontario Museum to celebrate our past.



While we appreciate and are grateful for this privilege, there is also a certain level of responsibility that comes with protecting our heritage. In essence, we are stewards of our past, stewards of the objects and material culture, which have come down to us through our predecessors. Yet, there are many challenges that our heritage faces and are highlighted exceptionally by Colin Renfrew, who writes:


“Crisis is not too strong a word to use when we speak of the predicament which today faces the historic heritage in nearly every country on earth. The world’s archaeological resource, which through the practice of archaeology is our principal source of knowledge about the early human past, is being destroyed at a formidable and increasing rate. It is destroyed by looters in order to serve the lucrative market in illicit artefacts through which private collectors and, alas, some of the major museums of the world, fulfil their desire to accumulate antiquities. (1)”

Crisis. Think about it for one moment.



The High Value of Egyptian Antiquities

First, let us speak about the value of Egyptian artifacts. For example, below is a list of the prices of several Egyptian artifacts that have sold through Christie’s Auction House:
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MensajeTema: Re: Crisis at Christie’s: the Sale of the Statue of Sekhemka and   Vie Jul 11, 2014 2:35 pm

The statue entered possession of the Northampton Museum in the late 19th century and has remained there since. It was on display until 2010. Unfortunately, the Council has decided to put it up for sale, so that its proceeds will help fund a £14 million extension to the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery (3). Several protests and petitions have been organized, one of them even reaching 1,000 signatures! The Arts Council England even has threatened to revoke the museum’s accreditation and deny it any funding, if it continues to go on with the sale (4). According to Christie’s Auction House, the statue is valued between £4 to £6 million (C$7.3 to C$11 million). In its press release, Christie’s provides the long history of the statue and its Director and Head of Antiquities, Georgina Aitken had this to say:


“Christie’s is honoured to present the Northampton Sekhemka, which ranks as the most important Egyptian sculpture ever to come to the market. [...] This sculpture, over 4,500 years old, is remarkable in terms of its exceptional quality, near perfect condition and impeccable provenance. It is unquestionably a masterpiece of Egyptian art. (5)”

Going back to Colin Renfrew’s early quote, we can now see, how highly valued Egyptian antiquities are. The fact that Christie’s listed the prices with the term of ‘realised’ (meaning at its most basic: to make real) shows the wrong attitude towards antiquities. And, now, as I was writing this, I discovered that the statue has been sold. Yes, its auction was successful.

The Amount?

£14 million (more than C$25 million!)
Nearly £16 million (C$29 million) – first attempt did not go through
or
simply three (3x) four (4x) times its value!!! (6)(7)

This really is a crisis for the future of cultural heritage. Despite continuous calls to halt this sale, it went ahead. What impact could this have on antiquities in the future? Julia Thorne sums it up eloquently:
http://thomasgreiner.com/2014/07/10/crisis-at-christies-the-sale-of-the-statue-of-sekhemka-and-its-implications-on-cultural-heritage/
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MensajeTema: Re: Crisis at Christie’s: the Sale of the Statue of Sekhemka and   Vie Jul 11, 2014 2:38 pm

Sale of ancient statue goes ahead despite opposition from Egypt

Northampton council is selling sculpture at Christie's to fund museum expansion and refurbishment

By Martin Bailey. News, Issue 259



The statue was donated to Northampton Museum around 1880, probably by the fourth Marquess of Northampton

An Egyptian statue of Sekhemka is to be sold by Northampton council at Christie’s today, 10 July, with an estimate of between £4m and £6m. The sale has been challenged by the Egyptian antiquities minister, Mamdouh El-Damaty, and also criticised by the International Council of Museums. A Christie's spokesman told us that "co-operative" discussions were held with the Egyptian embassy in London earlier this week and "the sale will go ahead".

The painted limestone work, billed as “the most important Egyptian sculpture ever to come to market”, dates from around 2400BC-2300BC and depicts the royal scribe Sekhemka with his wife. The statue, which probably comes from Saqqara, is believed to have been acquired by Spencer Compton, the second Marquis of Northampton, during a trip to Egypt around 1850. It was donated to Northampton Museum around 1880, probably by the fourth Marquess of Northampton. Earlier this year, the seventh Marquess argued that the museum should not sell the statue as it would break the terms of the donation
but he relented in return for a promised 45% of the proceeds.

The council says that its 55% share will help to fund a £14m extension to Northampton Museum and Art Gallery and the refurbishment of Abington Park Museum. But the deaccessioning contravenes the policies of the Museums Association and Arts Council England. If a sale goes ahead, Northampton’s museums are likely to lose their Arts Council accreditation. A spokeswoman for the Arts Council says that they have received grants and that “funds may be repayable”.



http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Sale-of-ancient-statue-goes-ahead-despite-opposition-from-Egypt-/33277

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MensajeTema: Re: Crisis at Christie’s: the Sale of the Statue of Sekhemka and   Vie Jul 11, 2014 2:55 pm

Egyptian statue Sekhemka sells for nearly £16m Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.
A group of people gathered to protest about the sale in London
Continue reading the main story
Related Stories
Egyptian statue plans 'catastrophic'
Councils tempted by art windfall
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A 4,000-year-old Egyptian statue expected to raise about £6m has sold for £15.76m at Christie's of London
group of people gathered to protest about the sale in London
Continue reading the main story
Related Stories
Egyptian statue plans 'catastrophic'
Councils tempted by art windfall
Egyptian bid to stop statue sale

A 4,000-year-old Egyptian statue expected to raise about £6m has sold for £15.76m at Christie's of London.

Northampton Borough Council auctioned the Sekhemka limestone statue to help fund a £14m extension to Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.

However, Arts Council England had warned the council its museum could lose its accreditation status.

The Egyptian ambassador to Britain said the council should have handed the statue back if it did not want it.
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MensajeTema: Re: Crisis at Christie’s: the Sale of the Statue of Sekhemka and   Vie Jul 11, 2014 2:57 pm



Before the auction, Egyptian Ambassador Ahsraf Elkholy condemned the sale as an "an abuse to the Egyptian archaeology and the cultural property".

He said: "Our objection starts from this basic principle: how can a museum sell a piece in its collection when it should be on display to the public?"

The ambassador said: "We are concerned this piece may be moved into a private collection.

'Darkest cultural day'

"A museum should not be a store. Sekhemka belongs to Egypt and if Northampton Borough Council does not want it then it must be given back.

"It's not ethical that it will be sold for profit and also not acceptable. The council should have consulted with the Egyptian government."

Christie's said it would reveal details of the new owner later.

Protesters gathered outside Christie's before the sale said they wanted the statue to be returned to Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities.

Sue Edwards, from the Save Sekhemka Action Group, who travelled from Northampton to the auction, said: "This is the darkest cultural day in the town's history.

"The local authority has made a huge mistake but we will continue our fight to save Sekhemka."

Loss of Arts Council England accreditation would make the museum ineligible for a range of future grants and funding, however the leader of the council David Mackintosh said he did not see why this should happen.

Northampton Museum funding:

£900,000 annual budget, according to Northampton Borough Council
£166,000 granted in 2012 by Arts Council England for two projects and £69,000 granted in 2014 to digitise the museum's collection of 10,000 shoes online
£615,000 Heritage Lottery Fund total grants for various projects
He said that having kept Arts Council England "informed of our actions and plans... we see no reason why we should not retain our accredited status".

The statue has not been on display for four years, and no-one had asked to see it in that time, he said.

"It's been in our ownership for over 100 years and it's never really been the centrepiece of our collection," he told BBC Look East.

"We want to expand our museum and to do that we need to raise the money."

More on This Story
Related StoriesEgyptian statue plans 'catastrophic' 10 JULY 2014, NORTHAMPTON
Councils tempted by art windfall 10 JULY 2014, ENTERTAINMENT & ARTS
Egyptian bid to stop statue sale 08 JULY 2014, NORTHAMPTON
Egyptian statue sale to fund museum 28 APRIL 2014, NORTHAMPTON
Museum shoe archive to be put online 08 MARCH 2014, NORTHAMPTON
Author Alan Moore attacks library 24 APRIL 2014, NORTHAMPTON
Egyptian statue's future under wraps 21 OCTOBER 2013, NORTHAMPTON
Challenge to sale of Egyptian statue 12 JULY 2013, NORTHAMPTON
Egyptian £2m statue in legal battle 23 MAY 2013, NORTHAMPTON
Town to sell £2m Egyptian statue 23 JANUARY 2013, NORTHAMPTON
Statue sale plan threatens museum 04 OCTOBER 2012, NORTHAMPTON
Egypt statue sale to be reviewed 13 SEPTEMBER 2012, NORTHAMPTON
Cabinet backs Egypt statue sale 12 SEPTEMBER 2012, NORTHAMPTON
Museum may sell £2m Egypt statue 19 AUGUST 2012, NORTHAMPTON


http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-28257714

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