Thursday, June 13, 2019

Egyptian treasures going under hammer : Tut’s partial face at Christie’s along other ancient Egyptian stuff as usual

Egypt’s Ministry of antiquities and Ministry of foreign affairs have called on Christie’s auction house and UNESCO to stop the sale of a quartzite head from a statue believed to be for King Tutankhamen aka Tut.

The call comes after the announcement of Christie’s auction house in London that it is going to sell two Egyptian ancient artifacts in its “The exceptional Sale” on 4 July 2019.
The exceptional sale

The two Egyptian artifacts are partial quartzite head of ancient deity Amon with the features of King Tutankhamen and partial red granite head featuring King Amenhotep III.

It is an exceptional sale indeed and its cherry on the top is none other than partial quartzite head of our boy King Tut by all measures with an expected price tag not less than USD 4 million according to what I have read in the past couple of days
King Tut's partial statue
The piece featuring mostly King Tutankhamen in
The partial quartzite head got a broken nose like many ancient Egyptian statues and busts.
In March we found a theory on the reason behind that broken nose syndrome and it has to do with the ancient Egyptians’ beliefs on how statues had got a life force.

It is unclear when that fragmented left Egypt or where it was discovered.

What we know from Christie's that late German Royalty Prinz Wilhelm von Thurn und Taxis acquired it reportedly in the mid-1960s. It is unclear where that German Prince acquired it.
He sold it to Austrian art dealer Joseph Messina for Galerie Kokorian in Vienna, Austria in 1973 or 1974.
In 1982 or 1984 , art dealer Arnulf Rohsmann in Klagenfurt, Austria acquired from Galerie Kokorian.
Tut's face from another angle "Christe's"
Tut's face from another angle "Christe's" 
Then in June 1985, German art dealer Heinz Herzer acquired it from Roshmann and it moved to Munich Germany. Now as I was searching for more information about Herzer, I found out that he got an "interesting history in dealing with ancient objects with fabricated provenance" according to the Association For Research into Crimes against Art "ARCA" blog.

This means all that timeline before Herzer could be fake.

Anyhow in July 1985 "one month later" Herzer sold it to "Resandro Collection" in Germany. The "Resandro Collection" was owned by a wealthy couple who visited Egypt during their honeymoon in 1964 and were fascinated by the Ancient Egyptian Civilization.

In 1967 "it is always that God damned year !!"  they began to collect ancient Egyptian artifacts to make one of Europe' s biggest and unique private ancient Egyptian collection.

The first sources for their collections in the 1970s and 1980s were Egyptian Omar Pacha Sultan's collection, French Ernest Brummer's collection and British Leopold Hirsch collection "Whose collection was sold in May 1934". They continued to add to their collections till the 1990s and it toured the world especially in Europe in exhibits.

It seems that after 2002, Christie's acquired that collection and held its first auction in December 2006 selling 41 ancient Egyptian artifacts for GBP 3,013,125.  

Interestingly, this small research introduced me to Omar Pacha Sultan, the brother of Egyptian feminist Huda Sharaawy who dumped her family in an act of defiance as her Upper Egyptian aristocrat father was known to his support to the British Occupation in Egypt in the 19th century. On the other hand, Omar Pacha Sultan was supportive of the independence movement led by none other Mostafa Kamel Pasha in the early 20th century. 

King Tutankhamen's state at the Egyptian Museum of Cairo
King Tut's full state in Egyptian
Museum of Cairo "2015"
Anyhow, Omar Pacha Sultan is known abroad for his unique antiquities collection from different eras in Egypt including ancient Egypt. In 1929 following his death, a special catalog about his collection was published in Paris in French under the name "Collection de Feu Omar Pacha Sultan Le Caire".

Egypt was from the first countries in the world to issue laws in an attempt to protect ancient artifacts in 1835 starting with a decree that banned the unauthorized removal of antiquities from the country.

 In March 1869, the government issued a bylaw on “Antiquities items;” which included a regulatory framework for excavations and the prevention of smuggling.

Then in March 1874, another law was issued stipulating that all antiquities not yet discovered (those not unearthed) were the property of the government.

More legalizations issued afterward yet they did not have a bad impact like law No.215 of the year 1951 on the Protection of Antiquities was passed. On paper, this law completely prohibited the removal of antiquities unless there were multiple items that were similar to the antiquity in question, and the Department of Antiquities (in collaboration with museum experts) approved their removal and granted written permission. 

Here comes the hot stepper that opens a door of hell according to legal and archaeology experts in Egypt because it was a big hole in the law many used to get away with lots and lots of treasures.

Then in 1983 Law No. 117 was passed abolishing all antiquity exports outside of Egypt.

This is why we need to know when that partial bust or statue left Egypt and how it left it.

Personally and I could be wrong I believe this fragment is not part of Tutankhamen's tomb collection.

It is broken to the level that I believe it was among the young pharaoh's statues that were damaged and hidden deliberately to remove his mention and the mention of his father Akhenaten.

I believe that it was part of a larger statue and not bust featuring him.

There is a bigger statue for King Tutankhamen in the Egyptian Museum of Cairo that was not featured in his tomb collection on the second floor but rather the Modern Kingdom section on the first floor.

I do not know if it is still or shipped to the New Grand Egyptian Museum or not.

There is another Tutankhamen's statue that share similarities with that partial face as well that granite statue in Cairo Museum but it is in Cairo but rather in London.
Another broken nose , poor Tut "British Museum"
Another broken nose, poor Tut
"British Museum"
Made from granodiorite or granite, that statue of King Tutankhamen was found or acquired or bother in Karnak, Luxor by British Henry Salt who sold in 1823 to the British Museum. It was put on display in the famous Museum in 1834.

Interestingly when I searched more in the Resandro Collection and its auction in 2006, I found the cherry on the top of that auction was another broken partial bust made from quartzite too. It is Tut's but rather his enigmatic father, King Akhenaten.
King Akhenaten's partial bust 
That piece or lot 112 was not sold in that auction according to the auction's results report.

It was to be sold for USD 740,000-980,000 According to the provenance info provided by Christie's, Swedish artist and collector Reinhold Holtermann during his work in Egypt in 1920s-1930s.

He sold to some European collector who put it to auction by Christie's in 1990. It was acquired by the Resandro couple in that auction.

I wish we can know more about the place where King Tut was found because with proper research and excavation we can find more. My guess is that his partial face was found in Luxor or Thebes, the Capital of the New Kingdom.

I see that many news websites are saying that Christie’s is going to auction a bust of King Tut or one of his golden masks. Many news websites shared the photo of his magnificent mask instead of that partial quartzite head.

It is a partial quartzite head bust, not a full bust or a mask that was smuggled recently as some try to imply for political gains.

Another thing I noticed that the media ignored a fragment of King Amenhotep III red granite statue or bust in the same collection.
That piece is going to be under the hummer on the same day too.
This bust is estimated to be sold for USD 889,000 up to USD 1,270,000.
The partial fragment of King Amenhotep's statue or bust which is made of red granite
The partial fragment of King Amenhotep's statue or bust is made of red granite. 
Even Egypt’s greatest military commander in ancient times is overshadowed by the King boy I suppose.
In fact, the grandfather was overshadowed by his own grandson.
Maybe he would not have minded it.

Anyhow, we know from Christie's that most probably Mr. and Mrs. R.Magnoogian in the 1960s in Switzerland from famous Swiss art collector Ernst Kofler.

It is unclear when Kofler acquired it but It was exhibited publicly in Spring 1973 in that The Detroit Institute of Arts' Detroit Collects: Antiquities in the United States.

We know that it showed up in Christie's auctions in December 2015 in New York.

There is another auction by Christie’s on 3 July 2019 and people are ignoring it despite it also includes more ancient Egyptian artifacts.

The 3 July 2019 auction in London named "antiquities Collection" featuring 29 ancient Egyptian artifacts from the Pre-Dynastic era, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom, Ptolemaic period, Roman period and third Intermediate period !!

We are speaking about a value equal to USD 1.6 million if you are into the language of money and do not care about history.

Now I have been keeping an eye on Christie’s and Sotheby’s to see when they are going to sell old artifacts from Egypt. Since the sale of King Farouk’s Jewelry in July 2018, I began to search in the archives of those two world-famous auction houses and technically I found a whole Egyptian museum sold abroad.

From ancient times to medieval times to modern times, you name it and you will find it !!

The thing is that Christie's and Sotheby's won't stop any time soon or in the future and so far the Egyptian government only pays attention when people begin to scream and shout which is not enough.

This post and what is mentioned in it are a perfect example of what I mean when I say our history or our treasures are sold under the hummer for the highest bidder.

This has to stop.


  1. I'm happy to hear you are checking periodically as well for stolen artifacts and praying you will be successful in retrievals for Egypt. I heard Yoko Ono has a full floor in her multi-million dollar Dakota residence in New York, called "The Egyptian Room" just full with such artifacts. It was written about in a biography when her husband died.

    1. Yoko and John fled Egypt during a short visit after it was known that they were involved in illegal excavation operation.

  2. Zee: See if you can correct the headline to "hammer" instead of "hummer". It will make more sense to people. Best regards


Thank You for your comment
Please keep it civilized here, racist and hateful comments are not accepted
The Comments in this blog with exclusion of the blog's owner does not represent the views of the blog's owner.