Pharoah Tutankhamen as the Egyptian god Amen (courtesy of Christie’s Images Limited 2019)

Egypt will sue the auction house Christie’s for the sale of a brown quartzite head depicting the Pharoah Tutankhamen as the Egyptian god Amen. The 3,000-year-old relic sold at Christie’s London last week for £4,746,250 (~$5.9 million). In another escalation on Monday, July 8, The Egyptian National Committee for Antiquities Repatriation (NCAR) called on Interpol to investigate the provenance of the bust, claiming it was stolen from an archeological site in Luxor. Christie’s denies any wrongdoing in the sale.

The 28.5cm head was part of a statue of the ancient god Amen carved with the facial features of the young pharaoh Tutankhamun, who became king at age 9 in 1333 BCE and ruled Egypt through 1323 BCE. The bust is sold from the Resandro Collection, which Christie’s describes as “one of the world’s most renowned private collections of Egyptian art.”

Christie’s responded to the claims in a statement:

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. There is a long-standing and legitimate market for works of art of the ancient world, in which Christie’s has participated for generations. Christie’s strictly adheres to bilateral treaties and international laws with respect to cultural property and patrimony.

Last week, on the day of the sale, a group of 20 activists protested outside Christie’s auction house in London. “Save Tutankhamen Head. Egyptian History is Not for Sale,” they cried. Egyptian authorities are adamant about repatriating the statue. “We will leave no stone unturned until we repatriate the Tutankhamun bust and the other 32 pieces sold by Christie’s,” Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enany told the BBC. “This is human heritage that should be on public display in its country of origin.”

Egon Schiele, “Self-Portrait with Physalis” (1912) (via Wikimedia Commons)

The heirs of Fritz Grünbaum, an Austrian cabaret singer whose art collection was looted by the Nazis before he was murdered at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany in 1941, can keep possession of two Egon Schiele drawings that belonged to Grünbaum’s collection, a New York appellate court ruled on Tuesday, July 9.

Woman in a Black Pinafore” (1911) and “Woman Hiding her Face” (1912) were two of 81 Schiele works in Grünbaum’s collection of 449 artworks. The disputed drawings were previously in the possession of London-based art dealer Richard Nagy, who bought them in 2013 and included them in an exhibition at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City in 2015. Nagy argued in court that the Nazi regime had stored the drawings but wasn’t the one to seize them. According to Nagy, Grunbaum’s sister-in-law, Mathilde Lukacs, sold the two drawings, estimated at about $7 million, to a gallery in Switzerland, which resold them in 1956. The appellate panel rejected the argument.

Raymond Dowd, the attorney representing Grünbaum’s heirs Timothy Reif and David Frankel, told the New York Times that the drawings will be sold at a Christie’s auction in November.

John Rhoden, “Safari” (1958), Bronze with stone base, 38 x 27 3/4 x 7 1/4 inch (courtesy The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts)

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) has announced adding 111 artworks to its permanent collection, spanning historical, modern, and contemporary artists. The new purchase includes works by George Beck (1749 – 1812) John Rhoden (1916 – 2001), Helen Frankenthaler (1928 – 2011), Aaron Siskind (1903 – 1991),  Charles Grafly (1862 – 1929), and Kukili Velarde, PAFA told Hyperallergic in an email announcement. PAFA’s acquisition of 18 Rhoden sculptures adds to the seven that are currently on view at the academy’s Rhoden Arts Center auditorium, thus bringing the total number of Rhoden works in its permanent collection to 25. One of the highlights is the watercolor “Schuylkill Below the Falls” (circa 1798) by George Beck, considered as one of the earliest painted views of the Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania, PAFA wrote in its statement.

The Sotheby’s Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist Art auction realized a total of £1,960,500 (~$2.4 million). James Joseph Jacques Tissot topped the lots with “Room Overlooking the Harbour”(1878), which sold for £495,000 ($620,000). Second highest bid went to “Pyrallis” (1918) by John William Godward, selling at £268,750 (~$336,000).

A Sotheby’s 19th and 20th Century Sculpture auction realized £2,162,250 (~$2.7 million) in total sales. Raffaello Bartoletti‘s “Bacchante” sold for £287,500 (~$360,000). Bidding for Ferdinando Andreini‘s “la Bganante” (The Bather) closed at £187,500 (~$235,000).

An auction of 19th Century European Paintings at Sotheby’s totaled £4,057,000 (~$5 million) in sales. Highlights include “Puerto de Guetaria, País Vasco” (The Basque Port of Guetaria) by Joaquín Sorolla, which sold for £325,000 ($400,000), and Gaetano Chierici‘s “Surprised!”, which sold for £212,500 ($270,000).

The second part of an auction of the Pohl-Ströher Collection of Portrait Miniatures at Sotheby’s netted £1,345,125 (~$1.7 million). Topping the lots, Samuel Cooper‘s “portrait of a Gentleman” (circa 1667) sold for £50,000 (~$62,000)

The Old Masters Day Sale at Sotheby’s sold £3,890,875 (~$4.9 million) worth of art. George Stubbs’s painting “Lord Grosvenor’s Sweet William in Landscape” sold highest at £187,500 (~$235,000). Rachel Ruysch‘s “Still Life of Flowers in a Glass Vase on a Marble Ledge sold for £125,000 ($160,000).

The Old Masters Night Sale at Sotheby’s saw £56,205,950 (~$70 million) in sales. Most notably, Thomas Gainsborough‘s “Going to Market, Early Morning” sold for £8,171,000 (~$10 million). Jusepe de Ribera, called Lo Spagnoletto, followed with £5,893,000 ($7.4 million) for his painting “A Girl With a Tambourine (the Sense of Hearing)”.

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...