U.S. Attorney seeks forfeiture of Egyptian mask at Art Museum

Mar 16, 2011

The U.S. Attorney's office is demanding that the Saint Louis Art Museum give up an Egyptian mask because it's stolen property.

The complaint filed today in the Eastern District of Missouri says the 3,200-year-oldĀ  mask of Egyptian noblewoman Ka-Nefer-Nefer disappeared between 1966, when it was documented at the Egyptian Antiquities Organization Restoration Lab, and 1973, when the Egyptian Museum in Cairo did an inventory. There's no document indicating any transfer during that time period.

Egyptian authorities became aware in 2006 that the Saint Louis Art Museum had acquired the mask in 1998, and sent letters asking it be returned.

The Museum filed suit last month to block the government's seizure, arguing that there's no proof the mask was stolen and that the statute of limitations as run out. A spokeswoman did not return a call for comment.