U.S. demands St. Louis art museum hand over Egyptian artifact





A fight between the U.S. government and the St. Louis Art Museum over a death mask from ancient Egypt intensified on Wednesday as the government formally demanded the museum hand over the disputed object.

The 3,200-year-old mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer, a 19th Dynasty noblewoman, sits on display in the basement of the museum.

The federal complaint contends the mask was stolen from Egypt before the museum obtained it for $500,000 in 1998.

The complaint, which included a request for a restraining order preventing the museum from disposing of the mask during the legal proceedings, came a month after the museum sued the government to try to block the seizure of the mask.

U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said the dispute was "unfortunate" and would be "resolved by the courts."

The museum was not available for comment....

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