Egypt has severed ties with Paris’ Louvre museum in an argument over artifacts antiquities chief Zahi Hawass claims were stolen by the world famous art museum.
“We made the decision to end any co-operation with the Louvre until they return [the works],” Hawass announced today, the CBC reports.
Hawass claims the museum has failed to return several pieces, namely steles (ancient engraved stone slabs) that were supposedly purchased on the black market after being stolen from a Valley of the Kings tomb near Luxor.
Hawass told AFP that he believes Louvre officials knew the pieces were stolen before making the secretive purchase. France’s Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand told the same news agency that they would indeed return the artifacts if proven to have been stolen, Voice of America reports.
Before returning anything however, the museum needs national approval and proof the pieces in question were smuggled out of Egypt.
In 2002, Egypt launched a sweeping campaign aimed at having countries return artifacts that had been stolen, smuggled or purchased suspiciously. Many of the objects Egypt’s Supreme Council is trying to retrieve are on display at some of the most well-known museums in the world.
A serious accusation made against one of the most famous and reputable museums in the world. Regardless of what happens with these specific artifacts, hopefully the feud between Hawass and the Louvre is resolved so the flourishing partnership between the two can live on.
It would be a real shame if there ceased to be any Egyptian artifacts and pieces at the Louvre from here on.
The four steles in question are still on display in Paris.
The Louvre’s director as well as the minister of Culture in France both stated they wish to see the items returned, so I don’t think the committee will vote against it…. .