Sale of 4,000-year-old Sekhemka limestone figure will help pay for extension of Northampton museum and art gallery
An Egyptian statue controversially put up for auction by Northampton borough council has been sold for almost £16m.
The 4,000-year-old Sekhemka limestone figure, which was given to the town in 1880, went for almost £10m more than the guide price at the auction conducted by Christie’s in London on Thursday night.
The Egyptian ambassador to Britain had earlier criticised the sale and said that the council should have consulted with his government first.
“Sekhemka belongs to Egypt and if Northampton borough council does not want it then it must be given back. It’s not ethical that it will be sold for profit and also not acceptable,” Ahsraf Elkholy told the BBC.
The council said that the funds raised by the sale would be used to help fund a major extension of the Northampton museum and art gallery. The local authority will retain about £8m, while Lord Northampton will enjoy a £6m windfall. The remaining £1.6m is the buyer’s premium.
Christie’s has not yet revealed the identity of the buyer.
The statue depicts a man called Sekhemka, who the inscription on the statue’s base says was the inspector of the scribes of the royal court.
David Mackintosh, leader of the council, said that “every penny” of the funds raised by the sale would be ring-fenced for the museum service and allow its redevelopment plans to become a reality.