UK museum stripped of funding after selling Egyptian statue to private collector for £15m
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UK museum stripped of funding after selling Egyptian statue to private collector for £15m

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Arts Council England has stripped Northampton Museum of its accreditation status, threatening the UK museum’s ability to raise funding after it sold an Egyptian statue in its permanent collection to a private buyer for £15m (US$25m, €18.8m).

The 4,500-year-old Sekhemka sculpture, sold by operators Northampton Borough Council in July, raised the ire of the heritage and museum community over the sale of cultural treasures by cash-strapped local authorities.

Funding gained from the sale is to go on a £14m extension of the museum and art gallery, but as a result Arts Council England has removed the museum from its accreditation scheme – which is vital for museums to remain solvent – until “at least August 2019.”

Part of the accreditation scheme has agreed standards on how museums and galleries can dispose of objects and ACE stated that the sale of the statue, and the process running up to it, contravened its rules.

“It is difficult to imagine a scenario in which we – as a body funding museums and their collections – would fund a museum which has so little regard for the integrity of its collection,” said Art Fund director, Stephen Deuchar, who also said he hoped the decision would stop other local authorities from “raiding the collections of museums in their care for quick-win monetary gain.”

Northampton council has said it is taking legal advice against the move and is considering an appeal, calling the decision “disappointing” and “puzzling.”

Egyptian artefacts have been cause of great concern in Egypt recently thanks to gangs and armed looters. Egyptian Ambassador Ahsraf Elkholy commented on the sale of the piece, condemning it as an "an abuse to Egyptian archaeology".

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Arts Council England has stripped Northampton Museum of its accreditation status, threatening the UK museum’s ability to raise funding after it sold an Egyptian statue in its permanent collection to a private buyer for £15m (US$25m, €18.8m).
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