Northampton's £2m Egyptian statue: Sale plan under wraps

Statue of Sekhemka
Image caption The limestone figure stands 30in (76cm) high

A year after proposing to sell an ancient Egyptian statue, Northampton Borough Council has declined to reveal whether it is still on the market.

The 4,000-year-old statue of priest or court official Sekhemka was gifted by the Marquis of Northampton in 1880.

The Conservative-run council wants to sell the £2m statue citing high insurance and security costs.

Asked for a response, the council will only say it "is in discussion about the statue's sale".

The opposition Liberal Democrat group said the council had failed to keep it up to date on the sale.

Group leader Brendan Glynane said he would ask what the council meant by "discussions" and would seek more clarity on the sale at the next council meeting.

'No right to sell'

The ruling party had earlier said it could not comment during talks with the legal advisers of the present Marquis of Northampton, but "will issue updates when appropriate".

The sale has been challenged by Lord Northampton, who said the council did not have the right to sell the statue under the original deed of gift.

The 30in (76cm) limestone figure clutching beer, bread and cake - items for the afterlife - is believed to have been acquired by Spencer Compton, the second Marquis of Northampton during a trip to Egypt in 1850.

It was presented to the museum by his son.

The council said the statue's value made it too expensive to insure and secure, and the money raised from its sale could benefit other local heritage and cultural projects.

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