Germany has made a firm response to last week’s announcement by Zahi Hawass that Egyptian government will officially demand the return of the Bust of Nefertiti. Minister of Culture Bern Neumann today made it clear once again that the bust is going nowhere: Nofretete stays in Berlin!
Hawass claims the bust of Nefertiti Nofretete in German was smuggled out of Egypt illegally and should be returned. According to Egypt’s head of antiquities, archaeologist Ludwig Borchard intentionally lied to Egyptian officials about the value of the bust.
Bernd Neumann, also board member of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees the Neues Museum where Nefertiti is now housed, stresses that the acquisition of the bust by the German Oriental Society and later by the Prussian state was legal. This can be documented beyond doubt, he says. There is thus no legal foundation for the Egyptian claim for the return of the Nefertiti Bust.
Neumann adds, The highlight of the Egyptian collection at the Neues Museum, Nefertiti is now the best and most beautiful ambassador of Egyptian art and culture in Germany. She also enjoys the greatest possible conservation precautions, which are needed because of her fragile condition.
The statement issued by the German government stresses that on several occasions the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation has already justified the acquisition of the Nefertiti Bust by supplying the necessary details. In 1913 it was agreed by the German archaeological team that the finds from Amarna would be divided in half. The Egyptian Antiquities Service, as a representative of the Egyptian government, made the selection. The colourful Nefertiti Bust was allocated to Germany.
In 2007 Egypts loan request for the bust was rejected by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation over concerns of the artefact’s fragility, which makes it unfit for travel. Neumann supports the foundation in this position.
In 2009, the Bust of Nefertiti was moved (see images of the move)to the renovated Neues Museum,where she first went on display in 1924. Who ‘she’ belongs to is not the only ongoing debate concerning the bust. In the past decades, various scholars have claimed the bust is a fake.
Bija has previously listed 10 Reasons why the Bust of Nefertiti should (and will) stay in Berlin. Do you agree? Even if Egypt does not have a legal claim, is there an ‘ethical’ one?Or is Nofretete better off in Germany?