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Photo: Press Association Archive

Fake Pharaoh — Egypt

by Jonah Goodman

English art restorer, former cavalry officer and prolific smuggler Jonathan Tokeley-Parry was responsible for the theft of more than 3,000 antiquities from Egypt in the early 1990s. His most audacious consignment was a 3,400-year-old stone head of Amenhotep III, bought from graverobbers near Cairo. Returning to his hotel room, Tokeley-Parry rigged up his en-suite bathroom as a workshop, filling in missing sections of the statue with paste, then dipping it in liquid plastic. Once it was dry, he painted it in bright colours with crude, broad brushstrokes so that it looked like a cheap souvenir version of itself. With a fake receipt for its purchase, he took the head through Cairo airport to Zurich, then on to the UK, where he removed its mask with acetone and used tea bags and an oven to forge papers testifying to its provenance. It eventually sold in the USA for $1.2 million (€1.05 million) in 1993. Tokeley-Parry went to prison in 1997, and the head went back to Egypt in 2008.

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