Egypt tries to retrieve head of Tutankhamun from London auctioneers

A handout picture released by Christies auction house in London on June 11, 2019 shows an ancient sculpture representing King Tutankhamun's head. The Egyptian embassy in London requested that Britain prevent the planned sale by Christie's of an ancient sculpture representing King Tutankhamun's head and return it to Egypt, Cairo said. (AFP)
Updated 13 June 2019
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Egypt tries to retrieve head of Tutankhamun from London auctioneers

  • Christie’s expects the head to reach upwards of £4 million at auction, scheduled for July 4

CAIRO: The Egyptian Foreign Ministry says its embassy in London addressed the British Foreign Office and Christie’s auction house to stop the sale of the head of a statue of Tutankhamun, and return it to Egypt.

Christie’s expects the head to reach upwards of £4 million at auction, scheduled for July 4.

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities has also addressed UNESCO to stop the auction. Dr. Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Arab News he wanted the auctioneers to prove the head had been removed from the country legally, which he doubted they could.

He added that the exit of the head, supposedly from the Karnak temple complex in Luxor, was shrouded in uncertainty.

“We will stop this auction and demand the return of this piece immediately,” he said. Christie’s, though, insists that the sale of the 3,000 year old head is legal.

The St. James-based auction house suggested that the head, along with a wooden sarcophagus and multiple other artifacts also going on sale, were previously owned by the Munich-based collector Heinz Herner, and before that by Austrian dealer Joseph Mesina, who obtained the head from the collection of Prince Wilhelm von Thurn und Taxis in the mid 1970s.

In January, Egypt took possession of a stone tablet belonging to the pharaoh Amenhotep I, which had been put up for sale at another London auction house after being illegally smuggled out of Egypt.

The Ministry of Antiquities said it had recovered the piece after searches on global auction sites on the internet brought the tablet to its attention.

Archaeologist Shaaban Abdul Jawad told Arab News the Egyptian state was taking a keen interest in the sale of potentially looted ancient Egyptian items, often tracking them to international auctions to return and preserve the nation’s cultural heritage.


Record 12.4m people reached with food aid in Yemen: UN

Updated 20 September 2019
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Record 12.4m people reached with food aid in Yemen: UN

  • But still needed $600 million from donors to provide uninterrupted food deliveries for the next six months in the war-torn country
  • Houthi forces have used access to aid and food as a political tool

GENEVA: A record 12.4 million people in Yemen received food aid in August, the first time the targeted population was reached fully, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.
At the same time, WFP said it still needed $600 million from donors to provide uninterrupted food deliveries for the next six months in the war-torn country. Rations could be cut from October if funds are not forthcoming, it added.
Houthi forces have used access to aid and food as a political tool, exacerbating what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with high rates of severe child malnutrition.
“New numbers from the August distribution cycle indicate that the UN World Food Programme has reached a record 12.4 million food-insecure people with food assistance in August. This is the highest number ever reached,” WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said in a statement.
WFP previously reached about 11 million Yemenis per month with rations.
The agency halted most aid in Sanaa on June 20 out of concern that food was being diverted, through a local partner, away from vulnerable people. However, it maintained nutrition programs only for malnourished children, as well as pregnant and nursing mothers.
WFP resumed distributions to 850,000 people two months later in the Yemeni capital after reaching an agreement with the Iran-aligned Houthi authorities who control the city. WFP said at the time a biometric registration process would be introduced for 9 million people living in areas under Houthi control.