US returns stolen ancient Egyptian coffin that was in New York’s Met museum

2,100-year-old relic was looted and smuggled out of its homeland in 2011

The Gold Coffin of Nedjemankh is displayed during a news conference to announce its return the the people of Egypt in New York City, US, September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
The Gold Coffin of Nedjemankh is displayed during a news conference to announce its return the the people of Egypt in New York City, US, September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A gilded coffin stolen from Egypt but acquired two years ago by the Metropolitan Museum in New York City is on its way back home.

The 2,100-year-old relic was looted and smuggled out of Egypt in 2011.

The museum unknowingly acquired the artefact in 2017 from a global art trafficking network using fraudulent documents, officials said. The antique was bought from a Paris art dealer for $4 million (Dh 14.69m) and made the centre piece of an exhibition.

The museum was given a forged 1971 Egyptian export licence, among other false documents, prosecutors told US local media.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry held a repatriation ceremony in New York on Wednesday for the Coffin of Nedjemankh.

The relic dates back to the 1st century BC and was owned by a priest called Nedjemankh.

"Thus far our investigation has determined that this coffin is just one of hundreds of antiquities stolen by the same multinational trafficking ring," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said, quoted by Reuters news agency, at a repatriation ceremony in New York on Wednesday, adding that there could be similar seizures in the future.

The coffin will be on display in Egypt next year.

Published: September 26, 2019 03:01 PM

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