Sunday, 20 March 2011

US Government sues to seize St. Louis Museum Mummy mask

After reasoning with these people failed, the U.S. attorney's office has now filed a series of court motions intending to result in the seizure of the 3,200-year-old mummy mask at the centre of a controversy (Government sues to seize St. Louis museum's mummy mask). It is believed by many (most?) informed people outside the charmed circle of the Museum's directorate and trustees that the mask was illegally removed from Egypt some time before being bought for display in the St. Louis Art Museum. Readers will recall perhaps that the SLAM has already filed its own civil suit last month in federal court, trying to pre-empt such a move. See Ricardo St Hilaire's coverage too.

Let us hope the case finds a successful resolution - preferably by the museum saving face and admitting that there were indeed holes in its due diligence policy and coming to some kind of agreement with the Egyptians. Do the good citizens of St Louis really want their kids coming to the museum to view stolen artworks as a trophy and exemplar of modern US morality and attitudes to the rest of the world? Do they? Why do they not ask the Museum's Trustees why they are clinging to this clearly misappropriately acquired object so hard? Is it just the money involved?


David Gill said...

The issue is that the collecting history ("provenance") as presented by the museum now seems to be flawed. A time for an urgent rethink?

Paul Barford said...

As ACCEPTED by the Museum, it was presented by the sellers. The Museum did not do very much to check its veracity, and as several journalists showed very easily the story is full of holes.

Time indeed for St Louis to rethink matters and do what many of us think is the right thing.

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