Auction house sells ancient relic Egypt claims was stolen in 1970s

Bust which depicts King Tutankhamen, who ruled as a boy and died at 19, may have been stolen during the Karnak Temple thefts

Antiquities specialist explains ownership history of Tutankhamun bust before sale at Christie's Auction House

An auction house has sold an ancient Egyptian relic despite protests from Cairo.

Egypt had attempted to get a British auctioneer to cancel the sale of an ancient bust of King Tutankhamun that the nation claims was likely stolen from a temple in the 1970’s.

However, Christie’s Auction House claimed the nation never previously took interest in the publicly displayed piece and sold the 3,000 year old bust.

The relic fetched over £4.7m, having previously sold as part of a collection for around half of that.

The bust is understood to have been in the hands of German aristocrat Prinz Wilhelm Von Stern.

Egypt's former antiquities minister, Zahi Hawass, told AFP news agency: "We think it left Egypt after 1970 because in that time other artefacts were stolen from Karnak Temple."

In a statement, the auction house said: "The object is not, and has not been, the subject of an investigation."

Christie’s also said it would never auction an object where there legitimate concerns of theft.

Egypt enacted protections preventing artefacts from being taken out of the country in the 1980s.

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