Duped council hopes to display fake statue

A council which was duped into paying £440,000 for a fake Egyptian statuette said today that it hopes to put the sculpture on display in a local museum.

Bolton Council bought the 20-inch Princess Amarna in 2003 after it was authenticated as 3,300 years old by the Egyptology department at Christie's and the British Museum.

In fact, the figurine of the granddaughter of King Tutankhamun was crafted by master forger Shaun Greenhalgh, 48, in his garden shed in just three weeks.

The Princess Amarna is now in the hands of London's Metropolitan Police, but Bolton Council plans to borrow the statue for a special display in Bolton Museum's Egyptology section.

A council spokesman said: "The Amarna statue remains the property of the London Metropolitan Police as ordered by the judge, and therefore could never be housed at Bolton Museum permanently.

"However, we are currently looking into the possibility of the statue being temporarily returned to be put on special display."

He added: "It will be interesting for members of the public to learn about the process of buying the statue and the collection as a whole. If negotiations with the police are successful, we hope the display will attract visitors to the museum and to Bolton in general."

Self-taught artist Greenhalgh, of Bromley Cross, Bolton, created numerous fakes, including statues by Barbara Hepworth, Constantin Brancusi, Henry Moore and Man Ray.

His elderly parents George and Olive helped sell their son's forgeries, making at least £850,000 over a 17-year period.

Greenhalgh, dubbed "The Artful Codger", was jailed for four years and eight months in 2007 after he admitted selling faked and forged works of art as genuine and laundering the money made.

His parents admitted conspiracy to defraud and laundering the proceeds from the works. George Greenhalgh was given a two-year suspended sentence, while his wife received a one-year suspended jail term.