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Bolton’s fake Egyptian princess returns to the duped museum

While its real antiquities from Egypt travel to China

The Amarna Princess, the fake Egyptian sculpture created by Shaun Greenhalgh, is to return to Bolton, to be temporarily displayed in its museum next month. The alabaster statue was bought by Bolton Museum for £440,000 in 2003, having being authenticated by the British Museum and sold through Christie’s. The purchase was made possible by grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund.

The sculpture, supposedly dating from 1350BC, was exposed as a fake in 2006 (The Art Newspaper, May 2006, p4). Greenhalgh and his parents were subsequently convicted on charges relating to a wide range of forged antiquities and works of art. Grant donors were awarded £304,000 in compensation for the Amarna Princess. Greenhalgh, who was jailed in 2007 for four years for his part in the scam, was released from prison last year.

Bolton Crown Court awarded ownership of the Greenhalgh fakes to the Metropolitan Police, to be used for “educational” purposes. Following a brief display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in January 2010, Scotland Yard is now taking “Fakes and Forgeries” to Bolton, in Greater Manchester (16 April to 2 July). Other Greenhalgh items that will be on show include the Risley Park Lanx, the Hepworth Goose and Thomas Moran paintings.

Bolton councillor Elaine Sherrington admits that despite the great interest in the Greenhalgh case, “we do not wish to condone criminal activity, so it is important that the statue is displayed sensitively.” She added: “Rather than glamourising crime, it will hopefully show that even the most artful of forgers is eventually brought to justice.”

In a separate development, Bolton Museum is to tour many of its authentic Egyptian antiquities to China. Under a deal signed with Copenhagen-based United Exhibits Group, 150 items are to be presented in an exhibition titled “The Quest for Immortality”, which is due to open in June in Taiwan. A two-year-long tour across mainland China is then planned, which will raise funds for Bolton Museum.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Bolton’s fake Egyptian princess returns'