Egypt asks Interpol to trace Tutankhamun mask over ownership docs

Egypt wants Interpol to track down Tutankhamun artefact

Egypt asks Interpol to trace Tutankhamun relic over ownership docs

Christie's auction house sold the 28.5-centimetre relic for £4,746,250 to an unknown buyer in early July at one of its most controversial auctions in years.

Egypt and Christie's global auction house, based in London, are at war over the controversial sale of a 3 000-year-old Tutankhamun artefact that was recently sold for $6 million despite fierce opposition from Cairo.

But less than a week after the sale, Egypt's National Committee for Antiquities Repatriation (NCAR) said after an urgent meeting that national prosecutors had asked Interpol "to issue a circular to trace" such artefacts over alleged missing paperwork.

It suggested the issue could have an impact on cultural relations, by referencing "the ongoing cooperation between both countries in the field of archaeology, especially that there are 18 British archaeological missions are working in Egypt".

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Christie's countered that this was the first time Egypt has expressed such concern over an item whose existence has been "well-known and exhibited publicly" for many years.

Egyptian officials had wanted Thursday's auction halted and the treasure returned to Egypt.

Egypt and Christie's worldwide auction house are at war over the controversial sale of a Tutankhamun artefact. The depiction of the famous pharaoh's finely chiselled face shows the king taking the form of the ancient Egyptian god Amen.

The Egyptian foreign ministry asked the UK Foreign Office and the United Nations cultural body UNESCO to step in and halt the sale.

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About a dozen protesters waved Egyptian flags and held up signs reading "stop trading in smuggled antiquities" and "Egyptian history is not for sale" outside the British auction house's London salesroom last week.

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 United Nations cultural body UNESCO to step in and halt the sale.

Ahead of last week's auction, Christie's released a statement saying it recognised that such objects "can raise complex discussions about the past", but that it would "continue to provide a transparent, legitimate marketplace upholding the highest standards for the transfer of objects".

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