An Egyptian statue sold by Northampton Borough Council for £15.8 million could now be taken out of the country after an export ban was lifted by the Government.
Sekhemka was originally sold in July 2014 to a Qatari buyer at a Christie’s auction in London but an export ban was placed on the 4,000-year-old statue in March 2015.
Earlier this year, the Egyptian ambassador Nasser Kamel said he was hoping to put together a bid to buy Sekhemka back.
In October, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said a British buyer had expressed a serious intention to raise the funds.
However, neither party was able to raise the money to buy Sekhemka before the export ban expired on March 29 this year.
A Department of Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: “After a year under export deferral, no buyer has come forward to purchase the Sekhemka statue. As such, an export licence will be now be issued to the owner.”
The Culture Minister Ed Vaizey’s decision to extend the export ban for Sekhemka, originally imposed in March 2015, marked an unprecedented step for the Government department.
It never had, since the export laws were brought in 1952, extended such a ban by a year to allow a UK purchaser to match the £15.76 million price.
The move to sell Sekhemka resulted in Northampton Museum losing its Arts Council England accreditation.
The council plans to use the funds from the sale, which it is splitting with Lord Northampton, to extend and refurbish the museum.