Thursday 12 June 2014

US Museum Keeps Mask that They Insist Was in Two Places at Once

There is jubilation in US collecting circles today because, as an antiquities lobbyist callously reported it (Thursday, June 12, 2014, 'SLAMMED AGAIN!'):
The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has affirmed a decision dismissing the government's forfeiture complaint against the Ka Nefer Nefer mummy mask.  The ruling was made on procedural grounds relating a government motion to amend its forfeiture complaint following a dismissal order, but a win is a win for the Saint Louis Museum of Art.
It may be a laughing matter for collectors, dealers and US politicians who want to see more smuggled artefacts in US collections, but the fact is SLAM have the problem of owning an item which they, apparently in all seriousness, are claiming was in two places at once, and then ended up going through a series of improbable-sounding transactions before they bought it. Rather too much like the Cleveland Apollo (allegedly in two places at once at the beginning, improbable "East European collection", murky collecting history thereafter). I rather think the laugh is on US museum trustees that buy such stories from their curators.

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