An attempt to sell 36 items from a collection of 37 Egyptian artifacts at the London-based Bonhams auction house has been thwarted, Ali Ahmed, the head of the Antiquities Ministry’s Restored Artifacts Department (RAD), told The Cairo Post Thursday.
On Oct. 2, the collection, including silver shell pendants and a uniquely crafted silver bee, was placed up for auction at Bonhams, with proceeds going to the St. Louis Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, said Ahmed.
“RAD, in collaboration with the Egyptian Embassy in London, the International Coalition to Protect Egyptian Antiquities of the U.S.-based Capitol Archaeological Institute and the Metropolitan Museum of Art succeeded in withdrawing the collection from sale at the last moment,” said Ahmed. He added that in late September, Bonhams sold a dark green stone statue of the Ancient Egyptian god Osiris, which was a part of a collection, for 136,900 British pounds ($205,000).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York averted the auction, which was condemned by several archaeologists, and purchased the collection “for an undisclosed sum,” according to Ahmed.
“The collection dates back to 1900 B.C., and was, along with other artifacts, excavated in the early 1900s from a tomb near Upper Egypt’s governorate of Fayoum by the renowned British archaeologist Flinders Petrie (1853-1942),” said Ahmed. “In 1914, Petrie gifted the collection to the St. Louis Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, which funded Petrie’s excavation.”
The St. Louis Society of the Archaeological Institute of America said on its website that it decided to sell the collection because “it was too expensive to pay an annual storage cost of $2,000 for the artifacts.”