Museum chief says Egypt has not demanded Nefertiti’s return

Egypt has not demanded the return of the Nefertiti bust which has pride of place in Berlin’s Neues Museum, according to Michael Eissenhauer, head of the city’s museums, stressing that it is there to stay.

Museum chief says Egypt has not demanded Nefertiti's return
The lady in question Photo: DPA

Eissenhauer, general director of the Berlin state museums, said in an interview he would be happy to help the Egyptians check documents over the ownership of the famous statue, but that there is no doubt of German ownership.

Head of Egypt’s antiquity authority Zahi Hawass has spoken of wanting to move the bust to Egypt, and says he is convinced it was moved to Germany illegally in 1913. He has even set up a committee to “examine what exactly happened then with the distribution of finds.”

But Eissenhauer said, “We want to create trust in our relationships with Egyptian representatives. We will open up all documents, we will let the Egyptian side share our knowledge in order to stress that we have nothing to hide.

“We are convinced that the distribution of finds was conducted absolutely correctly. They were not playing with hidden cards back then, nothing was hidden, there was no con, the agreement over distribution of finds was a completely regular procedure.”

The bust, said to be more than 3,000 years old, was brought to Germany by archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt and first put on display in 1923. The story goes that the Egyptian authorities did not particularly value it at the time and made no particular effort to keep it.

It was recently moved to the newly-renovated Neues Museum where it has an entire room to itself, and attracts crowds of visitors.

But it remains on the list of the things Egypt would most like to see returned from various museums around the world. An image of the bust even graces the landing cards which visitors to Egypt have to fill out when arriving by plane.

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