The Metropolitan Museum in New York’s executive director, Daniel Weiss apologized in a statement to Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anani, saying he would return a valuable artifact in the museum’s possession which had been smuggled from Egypt in 2011.
The museum announced Friday that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office found evidence showing that the museum was given a false date of ownership on a gold-plated coffin dating back to the 1st century BC, inscribed for Nedjemankh. According to the New York Times, Nedjemankh was a high-ranking priest of the ram-headed god Heryshef of Heracleopolis.
The surface of the coffin is well decorated, with scenes and texts intended to protect and guide the priest Nedjemankh on his journey to the afterlife.
The museum bought the artifact from a Parisian art dealer in 2017 and was showcased in a special exhibition, “Nedjemankh and His Gilded Coffin“, until earlier this week, the New York times reported.
Investigators said that the museum obtained forged documents, including a forged Egyptian export license dating back to 1971.
The museum paid about 3.5 million euros for the coffin in July 2017 to the art dealer in Paris, Christophe Kunicki, who handed them the forged export license.