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Watch: Metropolitan Museum of Art's stolen gilded coffin returned to Egypt from New York

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Watch: Metropolitan Museum of Art's stolen gilded coffin returned to Egypt from New York
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Reuters
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A gilded coffin stolen in 2011 is to be returned to Egypt by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In a repatriation ceremony on Wednesday, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. announced the return of the coffin of Nedjemankh, a high-ranking priest of the ram god Heryshaf.

The wooden coffin, covered in gold, was made in Egypt between approximately 150 and 50 BC and is inscribed Nedjemankh's name.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased the coffin for around $4 million (€3.7m) in 2017. It was on view until February this year, when the museum found out it was stolen, according to its website.

Antiquities theft has flourished in Egypt since its 2011 uprising, with an indeterminate amount of heritage being stolen from museums, mosques and storage facilities, and illegal excavations taking place.

Read more: Revealed: Thousands of looted artefacts from Middle East sold in Europe via social media

Vance explained the journey of the coffin of Nedjemankh from Egypt to the US. "This coffin was actually buried in Egypt for more than 2,000 years until it was looted in 2011. From there, in 2011, the coffin was illegally transported to a warehouse in Dubai and subsequently shipped to Germany for restoration and then went to France for sale.

"It finally arrived here in New York in 2017, where it was sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by a French dealer. Our office has been investigating this network for more than seven years."

Egyptian minister of foreign affairs Sameh Shoukry added: "I want to congratulate both countries for the success in their relentless efforts that have resulted eventually in the repatriation of the coffin to its homeland.

"It is not the protection of our heritage, but it's the protection of mankind's heritage. This is not only for Egyptians, but this is for our common human heritage and our sense that we all share in the values and we all are one of the same international family."