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Country of Origin: Egypt
Museum: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

“The Bust of Prince Ankhhaf is made from limestone covered in a layer of plaster and possibly depicts the person responsible for the building of one of Giza’s pyramids and the carving of the Sphinx.

Discovered in 1925 by a Harvard University expedition, the relic eventually ended up at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The discovery of the statue was a major breakthrough and it is considered to be one of the most important artefacts of the Egyptian Old Kingdom.

Ankhaf was associated with the royals of the Fourth Dynasty, and the red tone of the plaster covering the statue was typically used for the flesh of men. Although the exact date of the statue’s production is unknown, it is believed that Ankhaf lived during the reign of Cheops.

Egypt’s requests for the statue to be returned home have been rebuffed more than once by Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

One of the main points of contention is that the bust of Ankhaf was given to the museum by a previous Egyptian government, meaning that the current government has no legal grounds to ask for it back.” – Middle East Eye


31 January 2020: “Prominent Egyptian archaeologist and former Antiquities Minister Dr. Zahi Hawass is launching a campaign to repatriate ancient Egyptian treasures housed in foreign – mostly European – museums…

…Hawass’ campaign will focus its efforts on the following five priceless artifacts: the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum; a famous bust of Nefertiti (1345 BCE) located in Berlin’s Neues Museum; the Dendera zodiac sculpture (ca. 50 BCE) in the Louvre Museum; a statue of Hemiunu (Old Kingdom) at the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim, Germany; and a bust of Prince Ankhhaf (ca. 2520-2494 BCE) located in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.” – The Media Line

14 August 2011: “The dream is the idea of the Ankhhaf bust returning from Boston, where it has rested since 1927. The Egyptian government is demanding the statue’s return, and the MFA has refused.

But this conflict – one of many the MFA has faced over works in its permanent collection – has been further complicated by the recent tumult in the Egyptian government. And while some claims for ownership of works can be made on legal grounds, this one treads on murkier terrain. The bust of Ankhhaf was given to the MFA by a previous Egyptian government, so the current government has no legal case. Any appeal must be made on moral grounds: that the piece is part of Egypt’s patrimony, and belongs at home.” –