Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Loading...





Feds end effort to reclaim mummy mask for Egypt

St. Louis museum to keep ancient mummy mask after US government ends bid to reclaim for Egypt

Posted on July 29, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on July 29, 2014 at 12:37 p.m.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A 3,200-year-old mummy mask at the center of a years-long custody fight will stay at the St. Louis Art Museum now that the U.S. government is giving up its fight to reclaim it for Egypt.

U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said Tuesday that the Department of Justice will take no further legal action to reclaim the funeral mask of Lady Ka-Nefer-Nefer, a noblewoman who died in 1186 B.C.

The mask went missing from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo more than 40 years ago. The St. Louis Art Museum said it researched the provenance of the mask and legitimately bought it in 1998.

A federal judge ruled in 2012 that the U.S. government provided no evidence of “theft, smuggling or clandestine importation.” An appeals court panel later agreed.

“We were relying on the lack of any records showing a lawful transfer,” Callahan said. “The court ended up deciding that wasn’t enough to lead to an inference of stealing.”

A message seeking comment from Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Museum attorney David Linenbroker applauded the decision, saying: “We believe that it received a full and fair proceeding, and we’re glad that it’s finally coming to an end.”

Art museum spokesman Matthew Hathaway said the mask is on view in the Egyptian galleries, an especially popular area of the museum, especially for families and school groups.

The mask is 20 inches long, made of painted and gilded plaster-coated linen over wood with inlaid glass eyes. It was excavated from one of the Saqqara pyramids, south of Cairo, in 1952.

U.S. government investigators suspected that the mask was stolen sometime between 1966, when it was shipped to Cairo for an exhibit, and 1973, when the Egyptian Museum discovered it was missing.

The art museum bought the mask in 1998 for $499,000 from a New York art dealer. The museum’s research showed that the mask was part of the Kaloterna private collection during the 1960s, before a Croatian collector, Zuzi Jelinek, bought it in Switzerland and later sold it to Phoenix Ancient Art of New York in 1995.

The art museum purchased the mask from Phoenix Ancient Art. It has been on display at the museum, in Forest Park, ever since.

But Egyptian officials began trying to get it back once they learned of its whereabouts in 2006. Negotiations failed, prompting a legal fight between the U.S. government and the art museum that began in 2011.


Recommended for You


 FILE - In this June 1, 2005 file photo, former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee leaves the Washington Post building in Washngton. Bradlee died Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, according to the Washington Post.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Posted 49 minutes ago
 FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2014 file photo, one of the two girls accused of stabbing another girl is led into the courtroom during court proceedings at Waukesha County Court in Waukesha, Mich. A Wisconsin judge is deciding whether one of two 12-year-old girls accused of stabbing a classmate to please a fictional online horror character is mentally fit to stand trial. (AP Photo/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Michael Sears, Pool, file)

Posted 49 minutes ago
 FILE - In this April 16, 2013, file photo, file photo, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and Rep. Ron Barber, left, D- Ariz., hold hands during the dedication of a room in the Capitol Visitors Center to slain congressional staffer Gabriel Zimmerman in Washington. As the race between Barber, who also was wounded in the 2011 shooting, and Republican Martha McSally has grown tighter in the final weeks before the Nov. 4, Giffords is playing more of a role by appearing in ads and raising money for her former aide and increasingly turning the race into a debate about guns. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Posted 1 hour ago
Back to top ^