Museum sale brings $1.2M despite protests from Cyprus, Egypt

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The sale of nearly 70 antiquities from an Ohio art museum that drew objections from the governments of Egypt and Cyprus has brought in $1.2 million.

New York auction house Christie’s said Thursday the total comes from live and online auctions this week featuring the Toledo Museum of Art’s pieces from Egypt, Greece and Italy.

Egyptian officials earlier this week sought to stop the auction and wanted the items from Egypt returned there, The Blade newspaper in Toledo reported.

Cyprus’ ambassador to the United States also hoped the museum would postpone the auction and reconsider keeping the items.

“With the exception of glass, the Toledo Museum of Art does not seek to be comprehensive in any collecting area,” museum director Brian Kennedy wrote to the ambassador in response to his objections. “The museum’s focus is on great works of art across time and geography.”

According to Kennedy, many of the pieces haven’t been displayed in decades and money from the sale would go to buy new items and improve its collections.

The museum acquired a majority of the artifacts in the early to mid-1900s. The highest-selling item from the museum’s collection was an Egyptian limestone fragment from the early 26th dynasty that fetched $130,000 at auction.

“In this case, Toledo has suffered not only the loss of irreplaceable objects, but loss of its patrimony,” said Joan Connelly, a renowned archaeologist and Toledo native who had urged the museum to reconsider the auction.