Egypt stops sale of priceless royal jewellery


After 18 months of investigations, the Tourism and Antiquities Police (TAP) have succeeded in recovering 264 pieces of jewellery belonging to the former royal family of Egypt, which had been hidden inside a safety deposit box in Bank Misr in Cairo.

The story of the recovery, said Major General Ahmed Abdel Zaher, Head of the Antiquities Investigations section, started when TAP received information alleging that a man was distributing photographs of a large collection of jewellery to Egyptian, Arab and foreign traders claiming that it had belonged to members of the former royal family of Egypt.

Major General Momtaz Fathi, assistant Minister of the Interior for TAP formed an investigation team who were able to collect the information required concerning the objects on sale and found that the jewellery had been deposited in Bank Misr in the 1970s in return for a loan.

Abdel Zaher said that a detective, disguised as a trader, managed to get copies of these photos to TAP, who then submitted them to the Ministry of Antiquities (MA) to verify their authenticity.

MA assigned a committee which validated the authenticity of the jewellery, describing them as illustrious and unique.

It also confirmed that all the jewellery in the photographs belonged to members of family of Mohamed Ali, who was the self-declared Khedive of Egypt and Sudan. The dynasty that he established would rule Egypt and Sudan until the Egyptian revolution of 1952.

TAP took legal procedures to check the bank accounts of the man and his late wife in all branches of Bank Misr.  This inspection revealed that it included 136 authentic pieces of royal jewellery.

Investigations also revealed that the man was about to sell these objects to a Qatari businessman for LE100 million. TAP confiscated the 136 pieces of jewellery and arrested the man who is now under investigation.

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Al-Damati said that the objects included necklaces, brooches, earrings, rings, medallions and bracelets. Among the most valuable artefact is a brooch that contains the third largest diamond in the world, weighing 40 carats.

“It is a very important and distinguished collection of jewellery from the former royal family,”  Al-Damati said, adding that the collection could fill a museum on its own.

He explained that these objects will be put back in their original location at the Royal Jewellery museum in Alexandria, where they will be placed in a special display.

Royal Jewellery Museum in Alexandria

Mahmoud Abbas, head of Modern Time Antiquities Section said that the jewellery bears the name and the year of its production. This kind of jewellery was only made for female members of the royal family in Egypt.