Monday, 30 March 2015

UK Government issues Export Ban on Sekhemka Statue!

It has been announced today that Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has said that Sekhemka will not be allowed to leave the country.

The BBC are reporting that "Mr Vaizey made the decision following a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), which is administered by Arts Council England."

The BBC also quote the RCEWA who are reported to have said that the statue was of "outstanding aesthetic importance" and was significant in the study of "the development of private statuary and funerary religion in Egypt and the history of human self-representation".

The Save Sekhemka Action Group are delighted that the Government has imposed a temporary export ban on the Statue of Sekhemka and we fervently hope that this will be upheld as a permanent ban on 29 July and Sekhemka, an internationally important work of Egyptian Art, will find a home in a public museum where it belongs.

The decision of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) to recommend the ban, not only vindicates our position as to the importance of Sekhemka as a work of art, but also provides much needed clarity as, until now today's announcement, we were not even able to establish that the buyer was from outside the UK.  This was because while the statue is of international importance, was owned by the people of Northampton and was sold by a publicly accountable body, their Council, the process was carried out behind the cloak of privacy and commercial confidentiality.

If the statue of Sekhemka is to be lost to the people of Northampton who enjoyed it for over one hundred years we would like to see Sekhemka retained in the UK.  The only problem is WHERE and HOW it could be retained and displayed since the sale itself was unethical and there is evidence it was also of doubtful legality.  As a consequence none of the UK's major museums wished to acquire it unless it was GIVEN outright - a public body cannot buy something owned by another public body, it is unethical and a misapplication of public money.

We also understand that the Art Fund was outraged when we told them about the proposed sale and declared they would not then help raise funds for a purchase.

Northampton Borough Council committed an act of great folly selling the statue of Sekhmeka.  Even greater was the folly when NBC agreed to buy off Lord Northampton to the tune of £7m thus halving their profit, rather than submitting to a transparent legal clarification of the statue's actual ownership. Now the consequences of this folly are even more apparent: Northampton museums have lost their Accreditation and with that all access to outside funding resulting in a loss of about a third of their income ( in our estimation) - This is not a good position from which to contemplate an extension to the Central Museum.

The Action Group will actively work to uphold the export ban through our many contacts and explore ways of how the statue can be kept in the UK.


  1. If the statue goes abroad the possible exemption on Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax enjoyed whilst it remains in this country may well cease. NBC have, I am told, indemnified Lord Northampton against possible costs arising from the sale, the IHT/CGT liability would make a large hole in the receipts from the sale


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