relief of an Achaemenid soldier from the Xerxes
Palace of Persepolis due to go on sale in
Christie’s London was withdrawn from the sale at
the last moment.
The withdrawal of the relief work from “Faces
from the Ancient World, A European Private
Collection” sale came as a result of an order by
the London court issued after a legal complaint by
the Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism
According to director of the Legal Department of
the ICHTO, Yunes Samadi, the final verdict will
soon be reached based on international laws, and
the relief which was taken off the eastern
stairway of the Apadana Palace and smuggled out of
Iran nearly 50 years ago, will be retrieved and
installed in its original place.
Due to the fact that the relief was looted out of
Iran many years ago and was once before sold in
Sotheby’s in 1974, Samadi and the director of
the Committee for Retrieval of Historical
Artifacts to Iran, Mohammad Abdol Alipour,
consider the withdrawal from the Christie’s sale
as an important victory.
Now Iran has to prove with documents and evidence
that the Achaemenid soldier comes from the Xerxes
Palace of Persepolis, one of Iran’s world
heritage sites, and is a possession of the Iranian
Meanwhile, Christie’s has published a statement,
announcing its respect for the national and
international laws and the cultural historical
heritage of countries, adding that if they are
certain of a piece being looted or illegally
obtained, they won’t go on with the sale.
However, Christie’s has referred to the legal
sale of the piece in Sotheby’s in 1974,
expressing its surprise of why Iran has waited so
long to demand the soldier’s retrieval. The
auction house has emphasized the need for the
provision of formal documents that will prove
Iran’s ownership of the soldier.
Iran has pictures which explicitly show that the
relief is part of the eastern stairway of Xerxes
Palace and therefore there would be no need of
specialized studies to prove its original source.
Moreover, documents exist which show that the
dates of the legal excavations in the site and
that of the relief being transferred out of Iran
were after the passing of a law based on which all
ancient discoveries are a possession of the
Iranian government, therefore proving the
illegality of the Christie's sale.