Rare ancient Egyptian shroud fetches fortune

2015-06-18 21:10
A rare 3400-year-old Egyptian burial shroud. (Bertrand Guay, AFP)

A rare 3400-year-old Egyptian burial shroud. (Bertrand Guay, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - A rare 3 400-year-old Egyptian burial shroud fetched €374 000 at auction in Paris Thursday, on the latest leg of a journey that has seen it passed from a billionaire banking heir to his wife and, later, his mistress.

The sale at Piasa auction house was unusual as most similar shrouds - roughly 20 are known to exist in the world - are in the collections of museums like the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

The winning bid was made by telephone and the identity of the buyer was not disclosed.

The small vividly painted square of fabric belonged to a scion of the Goldman Sachs banking dynasty and later his lover, French author and publisher Jeanne Loviton.

Organisers had said they were not sure how much the 29-by-21cm shroud, which would have been placed on the deceased's sarcophagus, would fetch.

Piasa's director Henri-Pierre Teissedre stumbled across the shroud while doing an inventory of a home belonging to Loviton, who died in 1996.

The cloth is stamped with the name of a man called "Ta-nedjem", who died around 3 400 years ago.

It is made from the same type of cloth used to produce the bandages that wrap mummies and shows "Ta-nedjem" sitting on a black chair with a curved back and animal legs.

Given the richness of his clothing, ornaments and furniture, experts believe the man - who was previously unknown to researchers - was a person of status.

Significant discovery

Loviton herself was a woman of status in France. She was a novelist, lawyer and publisher of the work of Louis-Ferdinand Celine, best known for his novel "Journey to the End of the Night" ("Voyage Au Bout De La Nuit").

She also was the mistress of billionaire banker Arthur Sachs of the Goldman Sachs family.

He initially bought the shroud in 1927 as a gift for his wife. She kept it in their bathroom but eventually returned it to her husband, who in turn presented it to his mistress, Loviton.

Loviton kept it at her home for the rest of her days.

The chain of ownership prior to Sachs includes an antique dealer named Lucien Lepine, who bought the cloth in Egypt and later sold it to a dealer in Paris.

But how the ancient work of art came to be on the market in the first place is a mystery lost to the passage of time.

Experts believe there is little doubt as to the shroud's authenticity.

"This would have to be the work of an extremely talented forger and great Egyptologist, who would have had to use special pigments. That seems impossible," Annie Gasse, an expert with France's National Centre for Scientific Research, said.

Gasse is working on a book about the shroud, which is considered a significant discovery because it challenges previous findings about how many of the burial cloths are thought to exist.

Read more on:    egypt  |  france  |  art  |  artefacts

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.