Sunday, December 21, 2008

Egyptian Sculpture at Center of Schultz Case Repatriated Back to Egypt

A sculptural head of Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III that was at the center of the notorious case of United States v. Schultz has been repatriated back to Egypt more than 10 years after authorities initially jailed its British smuggler. For more, see: The investigation also netted Fred Schultz, a past President of the National Association of Dealers in Ancient, Oriental and Primitive Art. For more, see: (article about conviction, which was ultimately upheld in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit).

In my opinion, this case is a prime example of the maxim "bad facts make bad law." In any event, one wonders why it took so long to repatriate the artifact, often described as "priceless" in both the media and before the Court. The British smuggler was convicted in 1997 and Fred Schultz, who was convicted in 2002, long ago lost his appeal and served his "debt to society." "Priceless" or not, perhaps the head lost much of its worth to the publicity seeking modern Pharaoh of Egypt's antiquities, Zahi Hawass, once the story receded from the news.

Addendum: David Gill ("Looting Matters" Blog) has posted a link to this press release from Egypt's attorneys about the case: I'm not sure I am buying the claim that the repatriation took over 10 years to accomplish because the matter was "complicated." "Complicated" or not, wasn't the vast majority of the groundwork done courtesy of the British and US taxpayer years ago? It's hard for me to believe the repatriation would have taken this long if Egypt made it a priority. I also do wonder what Egypt was charged for the effort. I suspect we will never know.

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