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July 14, 2014

U.K. Museum Draws Fire for $27-Million Sale of Artifact

A British museum's sale of a 4,400-year-old Egyptian statue last week has ignited a firestorm of criticism from cultural groups and Egypt's government, writes The New York Times.

The artifact, which was donated to the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery by a local nobleman in 1880, fetched $27-million at a Christie's auction Thursday. The town of Northampton will get about the half the proceeds and plans to use the money to finance a major expansion of the museum. About $10.4-million will be paid to the current Lord Northampton under the terms of the 19th-century gift.

While the sale is legal, two British museum organizations said they will consider revoking the Northampton institution's accreditation, putting at risk its ability to seek public funding. Egypt's ambassador to Britain, Ashraf Elkholy, said that if local officials do not want the statue "then it must be given back [to Egypt]. It's not ethical that it will be sold for profit and is also not acceptable."