What to Know
- The Manhattan DA's office recovered the gilded Coffin of Nedjemankh from the Metropolitan Museum of Art earlier this year
- The museum turned over the coffin after learning it had been looted from Egypt back in 2011
- Investigators say the Met was given fraudulent documents, including a forged 1971 Egyptian export license
A relic from Ancient Egypt has been returned to its country after it was allegedly looted and ended up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Manhattan District Attorney's office recovered the gilded Coffin of Nedjemankh from the Met earlier this year.
The Met bought the piece from a Paris art dealer in 2017 and displayed it until February. Nedjemankh was a high-ranking first century BC priest.
The museum turned over the coffin after learning it had been looted from Egypt back in 2011.
Investigators say the Met was given fraudulent documents, including a forged 1971 Egyptian export license.
Manhattan's district attorney announced the coffin's return Wednesday at a repatriation ceremony attended by the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Hassan Shoukry.
"Coming as we do from all over the world, New Yorkers place a strong value on cultural heritage, and our office takes pride in our work to vigorously protect it," said District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. "Returning stolen cultural treasures to their countries of origin is at the core of our mission to stop trafficking of stolen antiquities."
Met president Daniel Weiss apologized to Egypt. He said the museum was a fraud victim and unwitting participant in the illegal trade of antiquities.
In February 2019, the district attorney's office executed a search warrant and seized the Gold Coffin of Nedjemankh from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it was on display, as part of an ongoing joint investigation with law enforcement in Egypt, Germany, and France.
The coffin, crafted in Egypt between approximately 150 and 50 B.C.E., was taken from the Minya region of Egypt and transported through the United Arab Emirates to Germany, where it was restored, and then to France, where it was then sold to the Met in July 2017, according to the district attorney's office.
Once presented with evidence of the theft, the Metropolitan Museum of Art fully cooperated with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Following the coffin's return home, a Met spokesperson said, “The Museum is appreciative of both the government of Egypt and the District Attorney’s efforts, with which we closely cooperated.”