Egyptian statue owned by Northampton Borough Council could be sold for £2m

Sekhemka statue
Sekhemka statue

An Egyptian statue worth £2m could be sold by its owners Northampton Borough Council following a routine valuation of the museum’s collection.

The statue of Sekhemka, which has been in the collection for more than 150 years, has been valued by experts at about £2m and Guildhall chiefs have taken the decision to remove it from the museum and place it into secure storage at a secret location.

The council’s cabinet is set to consider selling the statue and using the money raised to invest in other, high priority, history and heritage projects.

Professional bodies including the Arts Council have been consulted about the proposed sale and their guidance has been followed in putting the proposal together.

Councillor Brandon Eldred, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, said: “We are really proud of everything in our museum collection and want to do even more to promote our history and attract visitors to the town, but this statue isn’t a key part of that heritage and it doesn’t help to tell the story of the town’s history.

“Delapre Abbey is our key heritage project and this money would give it a real boost, as well as giving us the opportunity to invest more in our nationally-recognised shoe and leather heritage collection”

The statue is a small tomb model of Sekhemka, a high official in the Old Kingdom of dynastic Egypt (c.2400 BC). He holds on his knees a partly unrolled papyrus on which is inscribed a list of offerings designed to serve the needs of the dead - these include bread, beer, cakes and incense. He wears an elaborately curled wig and a short kilt, pleated on the right side.

His wife, Sitmerit, sits at his feet on a smaller scale. The sides of the plinth are decorated with raised reliefs of servant offering bearers, carrying geese, calves, an incense burner and food. Sekhemka’s son, Sheshemnefer, is depicted on the front face of the plinth.

The limestone statue is painted, but much of the colour on the front has worn away.

The statue’s future will be considered by the cabinet at its meeting in September.