Anwar Sadat's diplomatic passport returned to museum after controversial auction sale

Document had been sold through a Texas-based auction house to an anonymous buyer in February for $47,500

The passport has once again taken its place among items on display at the Sadat Museum in Alexandria. Photo: Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Powered by automated translation

The former diplomatic passport of late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, sold at a US auction in February, has been returned to Egypt.

A statement on Sunday night from the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria’s library that houses a museum dedicated to the late president, confirmed that the passport had been retrieved by Egyptian authorities.

The library thanked the authorities for the retrieval, which it said was accomplished in "record time".

It had been sold for $47,500 to an anonymous buyer through the Texas-based Heritage Auctions.

Photos shared by the library on Sunday showed the passport displayed at the museum alongside some of Mr Sadat's other precious possessions.

The sale had been met with outrage from Egyptians who felt that as a national heirloom, it should not have been allowed to leave the country.

The library’s administration has repeatedly denied having any knowledge of the sale and asserted in February that it was not part of a collection of the late president’s belongings, which had been donated for display by his wife Jehan Sadat in 2009.

But the library came under fire from Egyptian social media users after the resharing of screenshots of a now deleted Facebook post from the Sadat Museum’s official page in 2018, which showed the same passport, or one that is remarkably similar, in one of the museum’s displays.

Library officials have yet to publicly comment on the screenshots.

“There has been an ongoing controversy over the passport’s sale, one in which the library’s name has been mentioned. The library has issued a statement on the matter to the effect that no passport, diplomatic or otherwise, was ever received as part of the collection gifted by his wife Jehan Sadat,” the statement read.

Anwar Sadat's passport was sold at auction then retrieved by the Egyptian government 'in record time'. Photo: Heritage Auctions

The collection donated to the library included the former president's military uniform, the traditional garb of his rural village, which he wore when he visited, and the suit he was wearing when he was assassinated in Cairo in October 1981.

In February, his grandson Karim Sadat, a parliamentarian and member of the ruling Mostaqbal Watan party, submitted a formal complaint to parliament over the passport's sale.

It was addressed to Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and the ministers of foreign affairs, culture and tourism.

The grandson formally requested that an official investigation be launched to determine how the passport came to leave Egypt and make its way into the hands of a private buyer.

Updated: April 03, 2023, 11:02 AM