According to St. Louis Today, the U.S. attorney’s office moved to seize a 3,200-year-old mummy mask that was stolen from Egypt before being bought for display in the St. Louis Art Museum. The museum is not taking this lightly and had moved to preempt the government’s taking of the mask.

Effectively, “the government wants custody of the mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer through a civil forfeiture complaint, and also seeks a restraining order to prevent the museum from doing anything with the ancient artifact while the issue plays out in court. U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan called the dispute “unfortunate.” “I truly regret we could not reach some sort of accommodation with the museum,” he said. “Since this matter is now definitely in the courts, I think (saying) anything further would be inappropriate.””

Museum has not issued any comments yet but when the government is asking for something, it might be hard to refuse.  By way of background, the mask was excavated in 1952 and has been in St. Louis since 1998, when the museum purchased it from a New York art dealer for $499,000.