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Feds end effort to reclaim mummy mask for Egypt

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 29, 2014 at 1:23 pm •  Published: July 29, 2014
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — A 3,200-year-old mummy mask at the center of a years-long custody fight will stay at the St. Louis Art Museum now that the U.S. government is giving up its fight to reclaim it for Egypt.

U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said Tuesday that the Department of Justice will take no further legal action to reclaim the funeral mask of Lady Ka-Nefer-Nefer, a noblewoman who died in 1186 B.C.

The mask went missing from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo more than 40 years ago. The St. Louis Art Museum said it researched the provenance of the mask and legitimately bought it in 1998.

A federal judge ruled in 2012 that the U.S. government provided no evidence of "theft, smuggling or clandestine importation." An appeals court panel later agreed.

"We were relying on the lack of any records showing a lawful transfer," Callahan said. "The court ended up deciding that wasn't enough to lead to an inference of stealing."

A message seeking comment from Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Museum attorney David Linenbroker applauded the decision, saying: "We believe that it received a full and fair proceeding, and we're glad that it's finally coming to an end."

Art museum spokesman Matthew Hathaway said the mask is on view in the Egyptian galleries, an especially popular area of the museum, especially for families and school groups.

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