The other voice - Kathryn Hart

The Met Returns $4 Million Egyptian Sarcophagus After Investigators Discover It Was Looted

  • September 26, 2019 18:26

  • Email
Gilded Coffin Lid for the Priest Nedjemankh (detail). Late Ptolemaic Period (150-50 B.C.). Cartonnage, gold, silver, resin, glass, wood.
Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Earlier this week, an ancient Egyptian gilded cartonnage coffin from the first century B.C. that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York purchased for about $4 million over a year ago was given back to Egypt. The prized new acquisition was stolen, said investigators. 

“Our office has been investigating this for more than seven years with support from our law enforcement colleagues in Egypt, Germany, and France,” said Cyrus Vance, New York's District Attorney who has focused on repatriating cultural property. Egyptian officials were given the piece in an official ceremony in Manhattan on Tuesday.

The mummiform coffin was inscribed for Nedjemankh, a high-ranking priest of the ram-headed god Heryshef of Herakleopolis. The elaborately decorated surface includes scenes and texts in thick gesso relief that were intended to protect and guide Nedjemankh on his journey from death to eternal life as a transfigured spirit.

Most special, the coffin was sheathed in gold and had silver foil lining inside, with a remarkable long inscription on the front of the lid explicitly connecting gold and "fine gold" (electrum) to the flesh of the gods, the sun, and the rebirth of the deceased.

After the Met purchased the coffin, the museum issued a statement that read, in part, that the piece was "officially exported from Egypt in 1971." And "the coffin has since resided in a private collection." 

The export license and ownership history given to the museum by the seller was fake.

Law enforcement uncovered that the rare golden coffin had actually been underground for thousands of years, then stolen from the Minya region of Egypt in October 2011, and smuggled into Dubai. The piece was sent to Germany for restoration and ended with an unnamed dealer in France, who sold it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for around $4 million.

In February, the coffin was seized from the Met by the DA's office. The museum has fully cooperated with law enforcement, says the DA's office.


Tags: antiquities

  • Email

More News Feed Headlines

Larry Walker, Tweet, Tweet...Look Who’s Here...or Aliens, Wall Spirits and Other Manifestations , 2017.  Acrylic and various materials on panels (diptych), 62 x 98 in.  Courtesy of the artist and Mason Fine Art Gallery.

Six Artists to See in State of the Art 2020 at Crystal Bridges and The Momentary

  • ArtfixDaily / January 16th, 2020

State of the Art 2020 debuts next month as part of opening the new contemporary art space, the ...

Jean-François Millet, French, 1814–1875; “The Angelus”, 1857-1859; oil on canvas; 21 7/8 x 26 inches; Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France 2020.28; Photo: Patrice Schmidt, © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY

Groundbreaking Exhibition Shows What A Major Influencer Millet Was On Modern Art's Trajectory

  • ArtfixDaily / January 16th, 2020

{{image}} {{image}} ‘Millet and Modern Art: From Van Gogh to Dalí’ creates an alternative narrative for the ...

Fergus McCaffrey, Barry X Ball, Hand of the Artist , 2013 - 19.  Translucent golden - pink onyx.  Overall: 50 x 33 x 33 inches.  © Barry X Ball; courtesy of the artist and Fergus McCaffre y

What to Hear and See Inside San Francisco's FOG Design+Art 2020 This Weekend

  • ArtfixDaily / January 14th, 2020

FOG Design+Art opens on January 16 at San Francisco's Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, with a Preview Gala ...

Edvard Munch (Norwegian , 1863 – 1944) Crowds in a Square , 1920.  Color woodcut.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Epstein Family Collection , 2013.

'Edvard Munch and the Cycle of Life' Includes His Powerfully Emotional Alpha and Omega Series

  • ArtfixDaily / January 14th, 2020

The Chrysler Museum of Art will present its first-ever exhibition of Edvard Munch’s iconic works in Edvard Munch and ...


Related Events

Goto Calendar
American and European Works of Art - Skinner - Jan 23-24

ARTFIXdaily Artwire