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Ancient objects by their nature cannot be traced over millennia. It is hugely important to establish recent ownership and legal right to sell which we have clearly done. We would not offer for sale any object where there was concern over ownership or export. The work has been widely exhibited and published and we have alerted the Egyptian Embassy so they are aware of the sale.
[In this auction] a number of Egyptian artifacts were sold without heeding Egypt’s legitimate demands over the past few weeks and the steps taken by the two Ministries and UNESCO with Christie's and the British Foreign Office, [this] is a matter that conflicts with the relevant international treaties and conventions as the mentioned auction house has to date not submitted the artifacts’ documentation to the Egyptian side. The matter of the auction being held also ignores the legal assistance requested by the Egyptian authorities from the competent British bodies.
They left us with no other option but to go to court to restore our smuggled antiquities. [. . .] We will leave no stone unturned until we repatriate the Tutankhamen bust and the other 32 pieces sold by Christie's. This is human heritage that should be on public display in its country of origin.