London man Niel Kingsbury has recently plead guilty to charges stemming from his falsification of the provenance of certain Egyptian antiquities. The charges arose after Kingsbury consigned the antiquities to auction houses Bonhams and Christie’s, explaining that he had inherited the objects from his uncle who served in Egypt during World War II.
A curator for the British Museum quickly spotted one particular item — a granite relief fragment of a Nubian prisoner — in a Christie’s London catalog. The curator believed that the fragment was a piece missing from the Amenhotep III temple in Thebes. According to the prosecution, Kingsbury purchased the items from an Egyptian souvenir shop. Counsel for Kingsbury insists, however, that he “had no knowledge that [the Nubian prisoner] was stolen property.”
A spokesperson for Christie’s is pleased with the discovery that the items had false provenance, and stated, “This case shows how our procedures, our due diligence and the transparent and public nature of our sales combine to make our saleroom highly unattractive to those engaged in the illicit trade.”