Head of Amenhotep III
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Date: New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Amenhotep III
Material: Greywacke
Provenance: Unknown; probably Thebes
Excavated: Smuggled out of Egypt by Jonathan Tokeley-Parry

Status: Repatriated in 2008

Perhaps the most beautiful piece of the thousands that Jonathan Tokeley-Parry smuggled out of Egypt, with the help of Ali and Toutori Farag, was this head of Amenhotep III, bought from looters with the dirt still on it. To slip the head past customs, Tokeley-Parry coated the head in plastic and painted it to resemble a cheap souvenir; to make it more palatable to museums and collectors, he attached a tea-stained paper label and claimed it had belonged to a nonexistent “Thomas Alcock.” His partner, Frederick Schultz, sold the head for $1.2 million in 1993 to Gawain McKinley, who then sold it to collector Robin Symes.

In 1997, Tokeley-Parry was convicted of handling stolen goods and sentenced to six years in jail in the UK, of which he served three. He later testified against his accomplice Schultz, who was convicted in June 2002 of antiquities trafficking and sentenced to 33 months in jail.

By the time the SCA investigated the head, it had became entangled in the legal dispute between Symes and the estate of his partner Michaelides. But with the aid of Mishcon de Reya’s Karen Sanig, the SCA reached an amicable settlement out of court, and the head of Amenhotep III returned to Egypt in December 2008.

The Mask of Ka-nefer-nefer, stolen from Egypt and currently in the possession of the St. Louis Museum of Art (St. Louis Museum of Art)

Head of Amenhotep III (SCA Archives)