An Egyptian statue worth £2m is at the centre of a legal dispute between Northamptonshire council and Lord Northampton, a descendent of the Marquis of Northampton who bequeathed the statue to Northampton’s museums in 1880, reports the BBC.
The statue of Sekhemka was carved around 2500BC and is of a scribe, a literate administrator who had considerable status and importance in ancient Egyptian society. It is carved in limestone and sits at 75cm high.
The statue made the headlines late last year after it was discovered collecting dust on the shelves of Northampton’s town museum. The borough’s council had commissioned an insurance review that revealed the true value of the piece.
The discovery immediately sparked controversy, as the council signalled intent to sell the piece to raise funds for other heritage projects, leaving campaigners distraught that the piece would be lost from the town.
Northamptonshire council says that the statue is too expensive to insure and that the money could be a huge boost to other local projects.
Now the current Marquis of Northampton is taking legal advice on whether the council has the legal right to sell an item bequeathed to it by his relative.
“I am taking legal advice about whether Northampton Borough Council has the right to sell any or all of the collection which my ancestor gifted to the museum,” said Lord Northampton.
The council had previously said that the statue was not a ‘key part’ of the town’s heritage.
After hearing of the legal action, a spokesman said: “As this is now a legal matter, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
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