Saturday, 8 March 2014

More on the Kingsbury Antiquity Smuggling Case,

Paul Peachey, 'Ex-BBC man attempted to sell artefact plundered in Arab Spring ', Independent, Friday 07 March 2014. This is a followup to an old story (see: 'Today, Egypt Challenges Christie's', Thursday, 2 May 2013; 'Ahram, English Dealer Arrested over Christie's Antiquities?', Sunday, 5 May 2013; 'UK Antiquities Seller Bailed (Ahram)' Friday, 10 May 2013; 'Man to Answer More Questions on Egypt Artefacts?' Thursday, 1 August 2013; 'British Man Charged Over Looted Egyptian Antiquities', PACHI Tuesday, 6 August 2013; 'The May 2013 Christie's Antiquity Bust', Friday, 9 August 2013; 'Guilty: "Property of a Gentleman" Antiquities "bought in Souvenir Shop"....', PACHI Thursday, 5 September 2013; see also Martin Bailey and Melanie Gerlis, 'Guilty plea over antiquities' Art Newspaper, Issue 249, 5th September 2013). The Independent is for some reason carrying this news story, the only "new" development seems to be that the author is sensationalising (but I guess confirming the suspicions about) the identity of the man involved.  

Mr Kingsbury's antiquities (withdrawn from Christie's sale)
Neil Kingsbury, 64, is identified in the article as a former BBC sound recordist. He has already admitted fraudulently trying to sell a statue fragment, looted in Egypt which he smuggled out of the country after being there making a documentary programme. Readers will remember he had claimed they had been in the family a long time to circumvent the law banning the export of antiques introduced by the Egyptian government in 1983. Kingsbury:
bought artefacts from an apparently upmarket souvenir shop during holidays in Egypt and then tried to sell them at Christie’s and Bonhams by pretending that they had been given to him by his late uncle who served in the country during the Second World War.  [...] The granite fragment, along with five others between 3,000 and 4,000 years old, were pulled from the Christie’s sale, just days before it was due to start on 2 May last year. They had been listed as the “property of a gentleman” when they were put up for sale. Kingsbury, from Northwood in north-west London, was arrested and admitted what he had done. He said he bought the items from a “good chap” called Mohammed who owned a series of shops including one in a five-star hotel complex in Luxor, across the Nile from the temple complex of Thebes, where he regularly stayed. [...] He claimed that he was told by Mohammed that he should tell the two auction houses that he had inherited them [...] Isleworth Crown Court was told.
The deception was uncovered by a curator at the British Museum who spotted in an auction catalogue that the red granite fragment of a Nubian prisoner was from the base of a royal statue at the temple of Amenhotep III in Western Thebes. The fragment had been excavated in 2000 and had been deliberately broken by the looters to hide where it came from. Dr Hourig Sourouzian said it had been stolen from storage after 2002 and could have been taken along with two statue heads in the widespread looting that followed the downfall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Kingsbury brought other items back to Britain too, and previously had sold them through London auction houses:
He sold items at two auctions – one at Bonhams and one at Christie’s – before the deception was uncovered by Mr Maree during his third attempt at a public sale of items including the granite fragment from the time of Amenhotep III.
One item – a painted stone relief of a man and woman – that he bought for a few hundred pounds was sold for £13,000 at auction. The buyer has so far declined to return the item, said Kate Blumgart, for the prosecution.
Kingsbury admitted three counts of fraud last year. A charge of possession of criminal property was dropped at a hearing on Wednesday and he will be sentenced on 14 April. Kingsbury was told he would not be sent to prison. Police accepted that he was not a “major player”, but he made more than £10,000 profit from his deals.

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