Egypt has requested that international police agency Interpol track down an ancient artefact belonging to the famous Pharaoh boy Tutankhamen, sold at auction in London earlier this month, AFP reported on July 9th citing government officials.
Christie's auction house sold the 28.5-centimetre (11-inch) relic that is 3,000 years old for £4,746,250 (almost $6 million) to an unknown buyer in early July at one of its auctions.
Egypt’s National Committee for Antiquities Repatriation (NCAR) headed by Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and attended by his predecessor Zahi Hawass as well as officials from various ministries called upon Britain to "prohibit the export of the sold artefacts" until the Egyptian authorities were shown the ownership documents.
"The committee expresses its deep discontent at the unprofessional behaviour of the sale of Egyptian antiquities without providing the ownership documents and the evidences that prove its legal export from Egypt," a spokesperson for NCAR said in a statement.
The NCAR also warned that the issue could have a negative impact on cultural relations between the two countries, adding that there were currently 18 British archaeological missions working in Egypt.
Hawass told AFP that the piece appeared to have been "stolen" in the 1970s from the Karnak Temple complex just north of Luxor and the Egyptian foreign ministry asked the UK Foreign Office and the UN cultural body Unesco to intervene and halt the sale.
Christie’s, in contrast, has published a chronology of how the relic has been transferred from one place to another by European art dealers over the past 50 years and told AFP that it would "not sell any work where there isn't clear title of ownership".
Meanwhile, about a dozen people protested outside the auction house, holding signs that read: "Stop trading in smuggled antiquities" following the sale of the quartzite head of the "Boy King" Tutankhamen.