EGYPT -Egypt says it will instruct a law firm in the UK to file a civil suit over the sale last week of a Tutankhamun bust.

The sculpture of the pharaoh was bought for £4.7m ($6m) at Christie’s auction house in London, despite Egypt warning it was probably stolen in the 1970s. Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enany told the BBC that he would try to repatriate the artefact.

Christie’s said all necessary checks were made over the bust’s provenance, and that its sale was legal and valid.

It stated that Germany’s Prince Wilhelm von Thurn und Taxis reputedly had it in his collection by the 1960s, and that it was acquired by an Austrian dealer in 1973-4.

The 3,000-year-old, brown quartzite bust was part of a statue of the God Amun, the most important deity of the New Kingdom, according to Christie’s.

The auction house said the facial features were the same as those of the young pharaoh, who ruled between 1333 and 1323BC. Similar representations of Amun, also with Tutankhamun’s facial features, were carved for the Temple of Karnak in the city of Thebes (modern-day Luxor), it added.

Before Thursday’s auction, at which 32 other Egyptian artefacts were also sold, Christie’s said the bust had been “well published and exhibited in the last 30 years”,

and that it had established the recent ownership.

But the Egyptian embassy in London complained to the UK Foreign Office that the sale was “inconsistent with relevant international treaties and conventions”.

Egypt’s former antiquities chief, Zahi Hawass, said the bust appeared to have been “stolen” in the 1970s from the Temple of Karnak. “The owners have given false information,” he told AFP news agency.