The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has agreed to return a golden coffin to Egypt after being presented with evidence that it was looted this week by the Manhatten District Attorney. The coffin which belonged to Nedjemankh, a first century BC High Priest of the fertility god Heryshef, was obtained in 2017 from the Paris-based art dealer Christophe Kunicki, for €3.5 million and came with what the museum believed to be appropriate documentation, including a 1971 Egyptian export license, which has now been shown to be a fake. The museum has now issued a formal apology to the Egyptian Minister of Antiquities, Dr. Khaled El-Enany, and plans to take unspecified steps to recover the money paid to Mr Kunicki for the artifact. A substantial exhibition built around the coffin has had to be closed.
The golden coffin of Nedjemankh, High Priest of Heryshef, to be returned to Egypt by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York after it was established that it was looted from Egypt in 2011. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Metropolitan Museum has made a number of high profile repatriations in the past few years, which has led some commentators to suggest that there may be a problem with the museum's acquisitions procedure, though it might equally be suggested that the museum has taken a more conscientious approach to the repatriation of artifacts than many other museums in the West, many of which harbour objects that their home countries claim have not been obtained legally.
Looting has been a problem in Egypt for millenia, although how much of a problem it presents varies over time, generally in response to economic pressures. The country has seen an upsurge in looting since 2011, when long-term Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in a military coup following months of protest. This looting is not only harmful to the country's heritage, but dangerous to those involved, with a number of people having been killed while breaking into tombs, particularly children, who are often sent into small tunnels that adults cannot access.
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