Cyprus’ Foreign Minister will seek an explanation from the British government as to how an ancient vase given to the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as a state gift has ended up at an auction house.
According to reports, Cyprus’ embassy in London will raise the issue with U.K. authorities.
In a tweet, art historian Maria Paphiti said she found out that the 2,700-year-old vase had been sold at the famous Christie’s auction house in May for nearly 7,000 euros.
The vase was given to the British PM 30 years ago by former Cyprus President George Vassiliou.
Whilst researching #Cypriot pottery,I came across this bichrome vase that was given by President Vassiliou to Margaret Thatcher. Sold at #Christies in May’19,it fetched 6,000 GBP,a price significantly higher than its pre-sale estimates 700-1,000 GBP, due to its provenance #Cyprus pic.twitter.com/FzMZVoQY1B
— Maria Paphiti (@MariaPaphiti) October 23, 2019
“Whilst researching #Cypriot pottery, I came across this bichrome vase that was given by President Vassiliou to Margaret Thatcher. Sold at #Christies in May ‘19, it fetched 6,000 GBP, a price significantly higher than its pre-sale estimates 700-1,000 GBP, due to its provenance #Cyprus,” Paphiti tweeted.
“I am assuming that her children wanted to sell her possessions after her death and the vase was believed to be part of it,” Vassiliou said. “However, the ancient pottery was not given to her as an individual but should have remained at 10, Downing Street.”
The vase was sold with a note, handwritten by Mrs Thatcher, that read: “Ancient Cyprus vase given to me by President Vassiliou.”
On its website, Christie’s said that the vase was “the property of a private individual,” but noted that it had been given to Mrs Thatcher when she was Prime Minister by President Vassiliou.
“I am sure my husband will be very disappointed. After Mrs Thatcher ceased to be PM, this ancient pottery, which was a gift, should have found its place at 10 Downing Street. It should certainly not be sold by her heirs. It was not a personal gift,” Androulla Vassiliou, a former EU commissioner for education and culture announced.