Friday, August 05, 2011

St Louis Mask - US Claims SLAM Lacks Legal Standing

Cultural Heritage Lawyer (Rick St Hilaire)

In the latest round of papers filed in court last week, lawyers for the US Attorney’s Office in St. Louis sought to strike the St. Louis Art Museum’s legal claim in the federal lawsuit involving the mummy mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer. Federal authorities sought forfeiture of the mask in March after the museum filed for a declaratory judgment in February seeking quiet title to the artifact. Both cases were filed in federal district court in St. Louis.

Federal attorneys, in their July 27 pleading, contend that SLAM’s “claim of ownership is legally impossible, and as such the Mask is effectively contraband in the hands of the Museum.” The government argues that Egypt’s patrimony law, which gives ownership rights of cultural property to the Egyptians, makes it impossible for the SLAM to own the mummy mask. Therefore, SLAM has no legal standing to assert that it can own the mask.

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