Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Where have Mohamed Ali Royal Family’s treasures gone ? or the curious case of King Farouk's bedroom

And as Egyptians were watching the current Presidential elections race in early January to see who is going to the king for the next four years whom they know very well, they got busy unexpectedly with something from the bygone true Royal era.

In early January, someone shared on Twitter photos which Flickr user Islam Taha uploaded to his photostream in April 2011 showing a bedroom reportedly owned by King Farouk of Egypt. That bedroom is up for sale at a famous U.S based antiquities gallery.(12, 34,5, 6 )

King Farouk's bed and the two night stands "Rau antiquities"
The bed and the two night stands "Rau antiquities" 
A group of friends who launched #MasrZaman’s active hashtag about Egypt’s history and heritage began to discuss that tweet and photos remembering how the furniture and jewels of Mohamed Ali Royal were smuggled outside Egypt illegally.

That discussion brought to the attention that news from September 2013 about how King Farouk’s bedroom at his Royal Rest house in Giza zoo disappeared and was replaced by a cheap bedroom.

On 15 January, Cairo-based Al-Molid website published a news report reporting about that royal bedroom that appeared in the United States concluding that it was the same bedroom that disappeared in 2013.

In no time, the story went viral online and shared across the Egyptian social media universe to the level that the U.S antiquities company had to remove its King Farouk’s bedroom website page from its official website and its special video from its official YouTube Channel.

It was the talk of the town that soon faded like any other thing despite it opened a file that pop-ups in 2018: Where have Mohamed Ali Royal Family’s treasures gone?

A King in exile reminds the government of its role

The matter reached that former King Ahmed Fouad II of Egypt and Sudan issued a short official statement about the bedroom suite that hit hard in January

Regarding what was spread about the sell of his Majesty King Farouk I’s bedroom in an auction in the United States , King Ahmed Fouad II and his family would like to assert all what had been confiscated from the family {Mohamed Ali Dynasty} for the sake of the Egyptian people had become a part of the historical and intellectual heritage of the nation.
That {heritage} is in the custody of the successive Egyptian governments , which should look after the people and its properties that should already be displayed in the state’s museums as public property. That heritage should not be neglected or left for theft.
His Majesty {Ahmed Fouad II} ‘s dignity forbids him to reclaim that furniture as he is the original owner leaving this responsibility to the Egyptian state. God protect the nation from every evil.
Or in other words “Dear Egyptian Republic, it is your Goddamn duty to protect Mohamed Ali Royal Family’s stuff, not mine, Signed Ahmed Fouad II” !!

There has been no official reaction to Fouad II’s statement from Switzerland.

He issued a more recent similar statement in February when Egyptian Lifestyle and Fashion Pashion Magazine announced that a King Farouk’s-Patek Philippe watch will be allegedly auctioned in March at  Christie’s Dubai.

The watch of the late King
The watch of the late king "Christie's" 
I searched for it in the lot to be sold in that auction in Dubai but I could not find it.

I do not know if Christie’s did not list online or not following the uproar that happened over the bedroom.

Yet I found it after a couple of hours in research at a past auction’s lot from 2014.

It was sold and returned back to Christie’s according to an interview with Remy Julia, the head of Watches in Christie’s in Khaleej Times.

It is not the first watch owned by King Farouk that had been sold by Christie’s or any other big auction house.

A number of King Farouk’s watches and accessories were sold in those shameful and infamous auctions held in 1954.

Those infamous auctions included as well his rare collections of stamps and coins. His private underwear suites were sold too in a humiliating way. China plates and rare silverware in addition to vases were sold in those auctions.
Interestingly, furniture or to be precise royal bedroom suites like the one mentioned here were not included according to my knowledge.

Back to Farouk’s Rest House in Giza Zoo

Farouk's Rest House was built for the late King in Giza Zoo between its famous Tea Island area and Khedive Ismail’s Rest House “wonder what furniture has remained in that rest House”.

According to news reports, the four-room- Royal resthouse has been closed since 1986.

The story goes that the rest house was used twice by the government as a residence for ministers who did not have houses in Cairo “from outside Cairo”.
The first time was in 1978 till 1982, when the late minister of agriculture Mahmoud Dawood stayed mostly alone because the rest of his family was afraid to stay there at night because of the animals’ sounds and preferred to stay in Alexandria.
The second time was in 1983 till 1986 when late minister Nagy Shatla of food supply and internal commerce and his family stayed there because he was originally from Mounfia governorate.

Now legend says that one of the ministers’ wives did not like the royal furniture of the rest house especially the bedroom and decided to replace it next day from a nearby Omar Effendi department with a much cheaper bedroom. Allegedly the old bedroom of the former king was sent to some warehouse. In 2013, the bedroom was nowhere to be found in the Zoo’s warehouses.

In 2018, according to the information we have got, the ministers are both dead and there is one wife that is still alive.
I do not know which one of them but it seems that journalists have to fail to reach her to ask her if she was the one that ordered to change the bedroom or not and if that Farouk’s bedroom suite in New Orleans was the one that was in the Royal Rest house or not in the first place.
This is the available information we have got in Egypt so far.

Many people including Molid website journalists insist that that bedroom was the once that stolen from the Giza zoo’s Rest House despite we have not seen the picture of the original room which was officially reported missing in 2013.

But this is not enough because we needed to know more about that bed suite that got nearly US 1 million price tag in the States.
Using old secret Google search, I found out that the page was added online in 2004.

That was my first lead then I contacted Rau Antiquities and I asked them directly about that the Egyptian King Farouk Empire bedroom, a thing which most news websites in Egypt did not bother to do, unfortunately.
The renowned Rau Antiquities answered my questions in two emails. The second one had more details about King Farouk’s Bedroom suite which was sold to a client in 2004 in New York and then the renowned gallery acquired it from him again in 2010 when he sold his house.

“Rau Antiquities acquired that bedroom suite in 2003 from Renoncourt Antiquities, a highly reputable dealer in Paris” Lori Page, the chief marketing officer said it in her email adding that the famous Paris art dealer owned it since the 1980s
King Farouk's bedroom suite with nearly USD 1 million price tag
King Farouk's bedroom suite with nearly
USD 1 million price tag "Rau antiquities" 

Paige added that they also knew from Renoncourt antiquities that the bedroom suite had been in France since 1970s.

It was displayed in the main windows of the Paris-based antiquities gallery for two decades till the Americans bought.

What Mrs. Paige told me in her email was the start of another lead to follow to know about that fancy bedroom.

Unfortunately, Jean Renoncourt died in June 2016 and before that, his gallery collection was acquired by Rouilac auctions house.

Thankfully, Aymeric Rouillac answered my email and told me that he had a long conversation with Renoncourt’s widow and daughter and both remember nothing about that bedroom suite.
There are no records about his acquisitions in the past either.

This is what I have found and honestly, I may push it further with extensive research in French news archives but I got busy with work as well bad influenza and Egyptian Presidential elections One-man wacky race.

Is it the Rest house’s bedroom?

Now there is a slight probability that that luxurious bedroom would be the one in the Giza zoo if it left Egypt in 1978 or 1979 and if the wife of late minister Mahmoud Dawood was the one who did not like the bedroom’s in the rest house.

Again a photo of the original rest house’s furniture can save a lot of time.

For me that room left Egypt in the 1970s or the 1960s illegally even if did not leave from Giza zoo’s royal rest house, it left the country from another guest house or a presidential palace

There are growing doubts that this bedroom suite in New Orleans was actually in one of the main Cairo presidential palaces thanks to its distinguished style.

Starting from minute 23:48, you can see a similar bedroom suite in Koubbah palace.

This is a documentary produced Egyptian State-TV when Mubarak’s administration began to renovate the Presidential palaces in Egypt.
ِA similar style bedroom suite at Kobbuah palace
ِA similar style bedroom suite at Kobbuah palace 
Needless to say, if it turns that the Rau antiquities’ bedroom was originally a bedroom suite at one of the presidential palace then we are in front of a bigger issue. We are speaking about a whole bedroom suite that had been smuggled completely out of the country.

There are officially 30 Presidential palaces and guesthouses, mostly from the time of the Egyptian Kingdom and many of them are closed.

There are other palaces and guesthouses that were not registered presidential and we do not know about its furniture except by accident.

For instance, here is King Farouk’s bedroom at the Royal Guesthouse in Helwan.
Alleged King Farouk's bedroom at the Royal Guesthouse in  Helwan
Alleged King Farouk's bedroom at the Royal Guesthouse in
Helwan !! "Youm7" 
That Guesthouse was officially inaugurated as King Farouk’s Museum in 2016. Amazingly it turned out that this Guesthouse was registered a Monumental landmark in Egypt in 1976.
One must wonder what happened to that Art Deco Villa from 1952 to 1976 as well from 1976 to 2016.

In its heyday, Helwan was a hot spot because of its famous therapeutic water in Kabrittaj Helwan and King Farouk used to go there frequently.

Nevertheless, it is said that he only used that guesthouse twice only.
Even if he used it twice, I do not know why I have doubts that this was not the original bedroom allocated for King Farouk. I have the same doubts about the carpet too !!

Not only Farouk’s bedroom but Other Royal bedrooms as well

Late Famous Egyptian comedian Fouad El-Mohandes (1924-2006) was known to own and sleep in Khedive Ismail’s bed. It was always brought up especially in his last days.
I remember how he described it as too high that he frequently fell because of it when he got older and was living alone.
In September, Rosa Al-Youssef Magazine published an interview with his eldest son who said that his father got the Khedive Ismail’s bed at one of the auctions in 1969 in Cairo.
People ignore that the famous comedian was antiquities lover and collector.
Unfortunately, a fire erupted late December in El-Mohandes’s house destroying everything including the Khedival bed.
I think we must ask how that alleged Khedive Ismail bed found its way that auction in 1969 when it should be in one of those presidential palaces.

Needless to say, the alleged Khedive Ismail’s bed was lucky to find its way into a house through an auction and not through the flea market !!

According to that photo, the bed of Egypt’s Sultana Melek’s bed was up for sale in some old Cairo flea market in the 1960s as I assume.
Sultana Melek's bed in a flea market in Cairo
Sultana Melek's bed in a flea market in Cairo
Date unknown 

The palace of Egypt’s only Sultana in Heliopolis was turned in into the famous high school “Masr El-Gadida Ideal school for Girls” either in the mid-1950s or early 1960s.
The school is considered the Egyptian President and his wife’s Polling station as it is blocks away from the Presidential Palace.

The originally Turkish Sultana passed away in Cairo in 1956.
So I assume that the take over on the palace and its furniture happened after her death.
Now there is no official information about any official auction for the late Sultana’s possessions whether the Jewelry or the furniture.

Yet I know that some of her Jewelry that was confiscated by the infamous inventory committee assigned to collect Egyptian Mohamed Ali Royal’s Jewelry and assets.
I know also that some of her Jewelry disappeared in the 1970s according to late Egyptian journalist Gamil Aref’s investigative reports in October magazine about the Jewels of Mohamed Ali Royal Family.
I wonder where Sultana Melek’s Jewelry as well bed is now.
Those two simple examples are just the tip of the iceberg and that they are usually ignored in the media despite their importance.

Unfortunately, as I hinted above the story of King Farouk’s bedroom faded away despite it forces us to ask a legitimate question on that what happened to the Mohamed Ali’s Royal Family stuff that had been confiscated for the sake of the public.

The Egyptian people deserve an answer because this is their heritage we are speaking about.


  1. Hi, Zeinobia. This is an interesting story, and a pleasure to read.

    I couldn't help but notice "His private underwear suites were sold too in a humiliating way." Please, you can't leave that hanging! Is there some story about his undergarments, a story well-known to every Egyptian, but not to me?

  2. Interesting story. Please give more information about the "undergarment" story, how it was sold, & in what way humiliating?

    1. They were sold in the 1954 auctions and it is humiliating to sell any living King's undergarments in the world


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