|A 4,000-year-old Egyptian statue, controversially sold by a local council for £15.76m, has been blocked from export by the government in the hope it can be kept in the UK. |
The statue of Sekhemka, a limestone figure 75cm high, was given to Northampton Museum by the Marquess of Northampton in the late 19th century. There was outrage when Northampton borough council sold it at auction through Christie’s in London last year to an unidentified overseas buyer. It went for almost £10m more than the guide price, breaking the record for ancient Egyptian art at auction.
|The culture minister, Ed Vaizey, announced a four-month temporary export bar on the figure, which dates from c2400BC and is considered the finest example of its kind anywhere in the world and of “outstanding aesthetic importance”. 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 Sekhemka statue is a tomb model of a high official, wearing a short kilt and tight-fitting wig, surrounded by his wife, son and seven offering-bearers. He holds a papyrus on his knees on which are inscribed a list of offerings designed to serve the needs of the dead, including beer and cakes.