The French owner of Christie’s, François Pinault, has lost a lawsuit against the French auctioneer Olivier Coutau-Bégarie in the French courts. The dispute arose over a statue of Seostris III, an important Middle Kingdom pharoah who reigned between 1878 and 1843 BC. Mr Pinault had bought it at auction in Drouot in 1998, but withheld payment after a German egyptologist had claimed that it was a 19th- or 20th-century fake. However, the French specialist Chakib Slitine and two museum curators testified that the piece was authentic but posthumous and probably executed between 1850 and 1720 BC. Mr Pinault was ordered to pay over FFr 5 million to the auctioneer and damages to the consignor, Heinz Eckert, and to the specialist.