As part of an international trafficking investigation involving the former director of the Louvre Museum in Paris, five Egyptian antiquities were seized from the Metropolitan Museum of Art by prosecutors in New York.
According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the artifacts date back approximately between 250 and 450 BC. The antiquities are worth over $3 million and depict a scene from the Book of Exodus.
A court document shows that their confiscation was ordered by a New York state judge on May 19 shortly after, after which the director of the Louvre from 2013 to 2021, Jean-Luc Martinez, was charged with “concealment works criminally obtained by false endorsement”.
The notorious case received a lot of media attention in France, with the investigative weekly Canard Enchaine claiming that the fraud allegedly implicated several other art experts.
According to The Art Newspaper, which was first to report the news, the five pieces seized from the Met were purchased by the famed museum between 2013 and 2015.
Calling itself a “victim of an international criminal organisation”, the Met said it was cooperating fully with the investigation.
However, this is not the first time that the museum has been the victim of false declarations and false documents.
The Met had to return the golden sarcophagus of the priest Nedjemankh to Egypt in 2019 after discovering that it had been stolen during the revolts against ex-president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
According to a report by the Manhattan District Attorney, Roben Dib, a Hamburg gallery owner, was involved in the sale of the sarcophagus to the Met.
(With agency contributions)
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