Ancient Artifact for Sale at Auction Despite Protest

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. anonymous / əˈnɒn ə məs / (adj) – unknown

    A lot of anonymous readers send entries to the magazine’s advice column.

  2. on display / ɒn dɪˈspleɪ / (idiom) – in a place where something can be seen by many people

    The museum put the newly discovered artifact on display.

  3. clamor / ˈklæm ər / (n) – a strong demand for or complaint about something

    There was public clamor after the government passed more taxes.

  4. legitimacy / lɪˈdʒɪt ə mə si / (n) – the state or quality of being legal or allowed by law

    One can check a company’s legitimacy through a certificate of registration.

  5. timeline / ˈtaɪmˌlaɪn / (n) – a record of time showing important events happening in sequence

    According to the timeline, the museum bought the statue 10 years ago.


Read the text below.

A UK auction house decided to sell an ancient artifact in spite of protest by Egyptians.

Christie’s London auction house recently sold a 3,000-year-old artifact. A young Egyptian king, Tutankhamun [toot-ahng-kah-MUH N], is depicted in the 28.5-centimeter bust sculpture.

Christie’s had the sculpture for 34 years. The auction house obtained it in 1985 from Munich dealer Heinz Herzer. Christie’s sold the bust this year to an anonymous buyer for almost $6 million.

Many Egyptians both in and out of the United Kingdom protested the sale. During the auction, around 20 protesters objected to the sale right outside Christie’s, asserting that Egypt’s history should never be sold.

Egypt’s government officials also expressed negative reactions toward the sale. The Egyptian ambassador in London filed a complaint, while Egypt’s foreign ministry claimed that the bust was stolen during the ‘70s from Egypt’s Karnak Temple.

Christie’s defended the sale, saying that the auction house does not put stolen objects up for bid and that the bust itself has not been under investigation. The auction house also pointed out that, although the bust was on display for a long time, there was no clamor from Egypt about the sculpture until the sale.

To prove the legitimacy of its possession and the sale of the artifact, Christie’s published a timeline of the artifact’s ownership during the last 50 years. According to the timeline, Prinz Wilhelm Von Thurn und Taxis, a German aristocrat, obtained the artifact in the ‘60s. The record also shows Austrian dealer Joseph Messina bought the bust sometime between 1973 and 1974.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• If you were the owner of Christie’s, would you also sell the artifact? Why or why not?
• If you were a government official of Egypt, how would you react to the sale? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Why do you think it is important to preserve ancient artifacts?
• If you could preserve one of your country’s ancient artifacts, what would it be? Why?