BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said Friday that Germany would not send the bust of an ancient Egyptian queen to modern-day Egypt because it was obtained nearly a century ago.
Wowereit defended a German foundation’s possession of Nefertiti’s bust that has been in Berlin since 1913 after a dispute flared this week over its ownership between the foundation and Egypt’s antiquities chief.
“Nefertiti is staying in Berlin,” Wowereit told mass-circulation daily Bild. “Nothing was looted. There was a fair agreement and there’s no reason to send her back to Egypt.”
The 3,400-year-old bust is one of Berlin’s top tourist attractions with one million viewers going annually to Berlin’s Neues Museum to see it. It was found by German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt south of Cairo in 1912.
Egypt’s antiquities chief, Zahi Hawass, said that the bust, famed for its almond-shaped eyes and swan-like neck, was passed off intentionally as a lesser find by Borchardt to Egyptian officials at the time, arguing that the bust belongs to Egypt.
Reporting by Eric Kelsey; editing by Paul Casciato