|Judge rules that 3,200-year-old mummy mask can stay at the Saint Louis Art Museum|
The funeral mask of Lady Ka-Nefer-Nefer is seen in an undated photograph. The 3,200-year-old Egyptian mummy's mask can stay at the museum, a federal judge has ruled, saying the U.S. government failed to prove that the relic was ever stolen after it went missing from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo about 40 years ago. AP Photo/St. Louis Art Museum.
By: Jim Salter, Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP).- A St. Louis museum can keep hold of a 3,200-year-old mummy's mask, a federal judge has ruled, saying the U.S. government failed to prove that the Egyptian relic was ever stolen.
Prosecutors said the funeral mask of Lady Ka-Nefer-Nefer went missing from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo about 40 years ago and that it should be returned to its country of origin. The St. Louis Art Museum said it researched the provenance of the mask and legitimately purchased it in 1998 from a New York art dealer.
U.S. District Judge Henry Autry in St. Louis sided with the museum.
The U.S. government "does not provide a factual statement of theft, smuggling or clandestine importation," Autry wrote in the March 31 ruling.
"The Government cannot simply rest on its laurels and believe that it can initiate a civil forfeiture proceeding on the basis of one bold assertion that because something went missing from one party in 1973 and turned up with another party in 1998, it was therefore stolen and/or imported or exported illegally," the judge wrote.
A message left with Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities was not returned.
The 20-inch-long funeral mask of painted and gilded plaster-coated linen over wood with inlaid glass eyes was excavated from one of the Saqqara pyramids, about 16 miles south of Cairo, in 1952. Ka-Nefer-Nefer was a noblewoman who lived from 1295 BC to 1186 BC.
U.S. government investigators suspect 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, and it has been on display at the museum in Forest Park ever since.
U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said a decision on whether to appeal has not been made.
"We're just looking to make sure we haven't missed the tiniest bit of circumstantial evidence," Callahan said. "We're back to the drawing board and studying it."
Museum officials have said they researched the mask's ownership history before buying it and had no indication there were questions about how it arrived in the U.S. The museum's research showed 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.
St. Louis Art Museum attorney David Linenbroker said the museum is confident the ruling will mean that the mask can remain permanently in St. Louis.
"We don't have any interest in possessing a stolen object," Linenbroker said. "We've been facing all this innuendo for years."
He said the legal process provided an opportunity for someone to prove the mask had been stolen, but no one did.
"We're confident we're the rightful owner," Linenbroker said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
April 6, 2012
Christie's announces one of the most important works by Yves Klein ever to be offered
Major painting by Francis Bacon to feature in Sotheby's May 2012 Contemporary Art sale
Metropolitan Museum shows Rylands Hagaddah: Important Medieval Hebrew manuscript
Judge rules that 3,200-year-old mummy mask can stay at the Saint Louis Art Museum
Exhibition of sculptures by the notable American sculptor Beverly Pepper opens at Marlborough Chelsea
Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935 opens at Martin-Gropius-Bau
Federal prosecutors seek to confiscate ancient statue pulled from auction at Sotheby's in New York City
Dieter Meier: Works 1969-2011 and the YELLO Years, An exhibition at the ZKM Media Museum
1792 Silver Center cent, from the first group of coins ever struck at the U.S. Mint, may bring $1,000,000
The Walters Art Museum announces gift from Robert Meyerhoff of 21 floral still lifes
Winding House museum in New Tredegar, southern Wales remembers its connection to Titanic sinking
Ran Hwang's first solo show in New York City opens at Leila Heller Gallery in New York
Recent pen, ink, and graphite drawings by Martin Wilner on view at Sperone Westwater
Mexican art show focuses on weapons, effects
Famed Pedro I 'Coronation Piece' leads 5,300+ Heritage Auctions' CICF offerings, expected to fetch $100,000+
Martin Luther King's children mark 44th anniversary of his death
IMAX gives 2 space shuttle cameras to Smithsonian
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Alan Bean's Apollo 12 space memorabilia for auction at Bonhams' annual Space History sale
2.- Former electrician who hid 271 Picasso works found guilty of possessing stolen goods
3.- Museo del Prado brings together for the first time four masterpieces by Van der Weyden
4.- Study by Mexican anthropologist says elites' clash led to Teotihuacan collapse
5.- Classical realist painter Jenness Cortez re-imagines Leonardo's 'Mona Lisa'
6.- National Gallery of Art reunites Rubens' Three Magi for the first time in a century
7.- Adolf Hitler 1912 watercolor still life painting to be auctioned by Nate D. Sanders Auctions
8.- Curator at Croatia's Natural History Museum finds Neanderthals were world's first jewellers
9.- 17 tourists killed and 42 wounded as gunmen attack Tunisia's National Bardo Museum
10.- Anish Kapoor presents a series of giant and wildly expressive resin and silicon works
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|