A statue at the centre of a row between a council and the Egyptian Ambassador to Britain has sold for more than £15 million.
The limestone statue of Sekhemka had been on display at Northampton Museum & Art Gallery but was sold yesterday at an auction by Christie's in London.
In a statement, the council said it sold the statue to raise funds for an extension to the gallery and museum, but Egyptian Ambassador Ahsraf Elkholy condemned the move.
Speaking before the sale he said the council should have returned the item to Egypt rather than selling it, adding that he feared it may now become part of a private collection.
"Our objection starts from this basic principle: how can a museum sell a piece in its collection when it should be on display to the public?" he told the BBC.
"We are concerned this piece may be moved into a private collection. A museum should not be a store.
Sekhemka belongs to Egypt and if Northampton Borough Council does not want it then it must be given back."
The sale, which totalled £15,762,500, will help the council fund its "exciting plans for the future", leader
David Mackintosh said in a statement.
"Every penny is ring-fenced for the Museum Service and we will now make our museum redevelopment plans a reality."
It is not known who the buyer is but it is understood Christie's may reveal details later.
Following reports the sale could mean the museum loses its Arts Council England accreditation, the council said: "The Council is also continuing to talk to the Arts Council about museum accreditation."