Purchase of Egyptian artefacts verifiably legal and safe

16 June 2014.

The Museum of Fine Arts acts with the utmost circumspection during every single one of its acquisitions; therefore, the museum collection only includes artefacts whose origin and legal background are unambiguous. This applies to all the artefacts that have entered the Department of Egyptian Antiquities: the  museum’s experts are able to indisputably verify the legal origin of each artefact in their collection.

In recent weeks several press releases have claimed that the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts preserves three artefacts – three pieces of an Old Kingdom wall relief fragment purchased last year – that were taken out of Egypt illegally. As is always the case, before the purchase of the stela in question the museum’s experts examined its origin and based on the documents at their disposal established that the artefact had been acquired by its previous owner legally. The claims of the newspapers can also be refuted by the fact that the artefact was verifiably owned by a renowned Parisian gallery in 1974.

The Museum of Fine Arts bought the Egyptian relief in 2013 from Rupert Wace Ancient Art, one of the most highly reputed London art dealers, from which prominent museums, including the British Museum and the Louvre, have purchased antique artefacts for their collections. When our institution purchased the artefact our experts paid special attention to checking its origin and acted with the utmost circumspection, duly expected of them. The origin of the artefact can be verified with written documents all the way back to 1974, but the museum also knows the name of its owner prior to 1974. Moreover, Art Loss Register, the international company dealing with the registration of artefacts in the art dealing circuit, as well as provisions in the contract of sale provide further guarantees of Hungary’s lawful acquisition of the stela. The contract also stipulates that should it be established that the artefact’s origin is illegal, the seller will refund the purchase price.

Thus far the Museum of Fine Arts has not been contacted by either the Egyptian authorities or experts in this matter, but if such contact is made, the museum will place all the information and documents it has regarding the origin of the artefact at these entities’ disposal.