In an Interior Ministry office somewhere in Gaza stands an ancient bronze statue of the Greek god Apollo, discovered last August by a local fisherman and valued at $20 million to $40 million or more, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.
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The discovery is credited to Gazan fisherman Jouda Ghurab, 26. However, Ghurab's claim to have come upon it in the waters off the Gazan shore is disputed by foreign archeologists who've seen photos and videos of the statue; they say there would have been sea encrustations and water damage if it had lain in the sea for centuries.
At first Ghurab and his family tried to sell the statue, which is estimated to be 1,800 to 2,500 years old. At one point it turned up on Ebay at an opening price of $500,000. But the Gaza Strip's isolation and the difficulty of transferring the statue to a buyer made the idea of selling it unworkable, so Ghurab turned it over to Hamas authorities – with the understanding that he would receive a reward.
The Louvre has expressed interest in preserving the statue. An unnamed American museum has also been in touch with the Strip's Islamist authorities about caring for the find.
"We are keeping the door open to cooperation with any government," said Muhammad Ismael Khillah, assistant undersecretary of Gaza's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. He said a public exhibition in the Strip was also a possibility – even though Apollo's uncovered genitals would violate the Hamas regime's modesty regulations.
"We will have to cover it in certain places," Khillah said.