Wednesday, May 03, 2006


mask back.' Egypt claims the St. Louis museum has a hot mummy mask, and Egypt wants it back:
The Supreme Council of Antiquities for Egypt has given the Saint Louis Art Museum a May 15 deadline to turn over the burial mask of Ka Nefer Nefer, which they believe left the country illegally.

Officials with the museum are evaluating documents from the council that seek to prove that the mask from around 1307-1196 B.C., could have been stolen from an Egyptian Museum storage room.

We don't feel like we've seen everything yet," Saint Louis Art Museum Director Brent Benjamin said. "It's premature to speculate what the outcome will be. We are looking at documentation and we are still awaiting other materials from Egypt."

Benjamin would not say if the museum planned to meet the deadline....

Zahi Hawass, Egypt's antiquities chief, said he has grown impatient with the St. Louis museum and will turn the matter over to law enforcement or the legal system if the museum does not act soon.

"I have sent them all the proof they need," Hawass said. "I don't understand why they insist on fighting this."

But it's not as simple as that:
The museum bought the mask from an art dealer in the United States in 1998 for about $500,000, only after checking with authorities and the international Art Loss Register to see if the item was stolen. The Museum also approved the purchase with the Egyptian Museum, Benjamin said.

It sounds as though the museum acted in good faith. After going through the proper procedures, at one point ought the Egyptian right of claim end? I'm sure you would get two different answers depending on whehter you posed the question in Cairo or in St. Louis.

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