plan displeases King Tut exhibitor
The Denver Business Journal
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz's The O2 venue in London,
which is the redevelopment of the troubled Millennium Dome,
may be the victim of a new wrinkle in the curse of King Tut.
Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council of
Antiquities, doesn't want his country's "King Tut and the
Golden Age of the Pharaohs" exhibit to show at The O2
starting next year, if the venue has a casino, according to
British and Middle Eastern press reports.
he Peninsula, an English-language newspaper in Qatar,
recently quoted Hawass as saying, "If there is a casino in
the dome, I will not send the exhibits to London. It's
insulting. The Egyptian [artifacts] have dignity, and
therefore we should keep this dignity."
Hawass further suggested The O2, if it does build a casino,
could open the gaming establishment after the Tut exhibit's
run in London. The Tut exhibit is currently scheduled to
show at The O2 for six months, starting in the fall of 2007
and running into '08.
The $1.1 billion O2 is competing with several other British
sites for a new, Las Vegas-type "supercasino." The British
government is expected to grant a single license for such a
casino in January.
Anschutz's Los Angeles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group LP
is developing and will own The O2. AEG's gaming partner,
Kerzner International Ltd. of the Bahamas, has applied for
the casino license, and would own and operate the gaming
establishment if it gets the license. Preliminary
construction has already started on The O2 casino site.
AEG has threatened to withhold the $350 million it plans to
invest in the dome's redevelopment as a live-entertainment
venue, if the project doesn't get the casino license. The
O2 has long been the front-runner with a British government
advisory committee for the license, according to British
AEG Live, the AEG component that handles live arts and other
types of productions, is helping to stage the Tut exhibit
worldwide along with the National Geographic Society and
Arts and Exhibitions International LLC of Aurora, Ohio.
David Campbell, president and CEO of AEG Europe, told The
Peninsula, "We hope that Tutankhamun is going to come to
London in November next year."
If the Tut exhibit doesn't go to The O2, an alternate London
location still may be found.
The Tut show is currently at Chicago's Field Museum through
Jan. 1. It next goes to the Franklin Institute Science
Museum in Philadelphia, where it will stay from Feb. 3 to
Sept. 30, 2007.
The proposed O2 casino and its license have been the subject
of controversy since last summer, when Britain's parliament
and Scotland Yard launched investigations into possible
conflict of interest at meetings between Anschutz and
British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott related to the
dome's redevelopment. Among those meetings was a visit by
Prescott to Anschutz's Colorado ranch in 2006.
At issue was whether Prescott violated British law against
accepting hospitality and gifts that might make him obliged
to the giver, or appear to be obliged. But after
preliminary investigations, both Scotland Yard and British
Prime Minister Tony Blair said they found no wrongdoing on