The Head of Amenhotep III is (ahem) Headed Home.

Posted on December 20, 2008


And here I thought that the innertube/Craigslist bank robber had won the Most Innovative Crime Award.* But upon reconsideration, I hereby grant the Award to Jonathan Tokeley-Parry, who smuggled the Head of Amenhotep III out of Egypt by making it look like a cheap forgery of itself.  Ingenious, really.

The sculpture’s removal from Egypt in 1990 breached the country’s law banning the export of antiques more than 100 years old.

It was taken to Switzerland and illegally imported into the UK, before being given a false provenance dating back to the 1920s, slashing millennia from its true antiquity.

The head was marketed through a New York dealer who in 2002 was jailed in the US for conspiring to receive stolen Egyptian antiquities – and was bought and sold on at least two occasions.

Tokeley-Parry was caught in 1994 when an assistant tried to sell stolen papyrus texts to the British Museum, which called in the police.

He was convicted in Britain in 1997 of illegally selling stolen archaeological finds and jailed for three years.

The head was recovered in 1999 by the Met Police’s art and antiques unit.

Well, the head is, ahem, headed home.  The article does not mention why it has taken 10 years since discovery of the fraud to send it back to Egypt.

For the whole article:

Smuggled ancient sculpture returns to Egypt at the Telegraph.

* This guy had advertised on Craigslist Seattle for a bunch of construction workers to meet him by a bank for day labor, telling them what to wear.  He then robbed the bank in the same clothes they were wearing, ran into the nearby brush, and escaped in an innertube downriver.  Although the helicopters didn’t catch up with him, technology did when DNA evidence linked him to the crime.

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