Northampton Sale of Statue Threatens Funding

The Sekhemka limestone, recently sold by the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. Photo: Christie's.


Northampton Borough Council, on behalf of the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, is attempting to sell a 4,000 year old Egyptian statue known as the Sekhemka limestone, the BBC reports. The piece, which is estimated to fetch £6 million ($10.3 million dollars) at a Christie’s auction, would help fund a £14 million expansion of the museum.

However, local residents and Egyptology enthusiasts worldwide have protested the sale. Prominent comic book writer (Watchmen/League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and Northampton resident Alan Moore went as far as to tell the BBC that the sale is, “undercutting one of the fundamental principles by which museums acquire artefacts in their collections.”

Public approval isn’t all that the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery has to lose, however. The Arts Council England notified the institution that they could lose their accreditation status and therefore be ineligible for various types of public funding and grants, should the sale go through.

“We are very disappointed to hear that Northampton Museum is going ahead with plans to sell Sekhemka,” the Arts Council’s Scott Furlong told the BBC, saying that the decision gave, “little regard for the sectoral standards or their long-term responsibilities [and] will only further alienate both key funders and the public who put their trust in them to care for our shared inheritance.”

A petition against the sale had been signed by individuals from Egypt, the UK, Belgium, and Canada as of Thursday morning.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
  • Access the data behind the headlines with the artnet Price Database.
Article topics