Saturday 19 May 2012

Ka Nefer Nefer: The Gloves Could be About to Come Off

See Rick St Hilaire's 'Prosecutors Reveal New Details of Theft Claim in St. Louis Art Museum Ka Nefer Nefer Mask Forfeiture' for a fuller summary of the latest developments in this disturbing case. It is good to see some clarity over Egyptian cultural patrimony law, Law No. 215, (making ancient artefacts excavated after 1951 the national property of the Republic of Egypt), though once again for me the key point is that SLAM is in denial over the clear indications that the object was stolen from a museum collection. The lack of any indication that anyone handling the object did so without any indication of there having been an export licence is telling. I also note the bit where the US government's lawyers get the gloves off:
advance allegations regarding the sellers’ knowledge of the falsity of the Mask’s supposed provenance, as well as information regarding the criminal history of the sellers, to suggest the illicit nature of the sale; describe the Museum’s merely pro forma “investigation” into the Mask’s provenance to support the inference that it knew or was wilfully blind to the fact that the Mask was stolen property both before and after its importation;
This is certainly turning the heat on, those arguments will be worth reading. I wonder whether the seller will step in, now their reputation gets dragged through the court? Or is this a sneaky ploy to get the seller testifying in court (but deftly putting the blame on the Museum)? That could indeed set the cat among the pigeons, as speaking out about the facts of the case is something the Aboutaam brothers have so far been notably unwilling to do.

Vignette:  The Aboutaam brothers (photo Chris Mueller/Redux).

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