Kim Kardashian’s Met Gala pic helped solve looted Egyptian coffin case

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Kim Kardashian is studying to be a lawyer — but who knew she was so good at cracking cases too?

In a wild turn of events, a photo of the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” star, 40, rocking a gold dress at the 2018 Met Gala has led to something quite unexpected: solving a mystery.

A viral snap that showed her posing next to the coffin of Nedjemankh has led to the conclusion of a long-running criminal case involving the golden artifact.

In a recent episode of journalist Ben Lewis’ podcast, “Art Bust: Scandalous Stories of the Art World,” he dives into how the photo played a role in catching the thieves who stole the coffin of Nedjemankh and sold it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for $4 million by using fake documents.

Before that, the coffin, which dates back to the first century BC, was dug up from the al Minya region of Egypt in 2011, during that year’s revolution.

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos was notified of Kardashian’s photo standing next to the coffin by an anonymous tipster in the Middle East, who originally received the image from a gang of pillagers. The informant was irritated that they were never paid for unearthing the coffin seven years before. Bogdanos asked them to provide digital images of the tomb.

gold-coffin
The gilded coffin of Nedjemankh from the late Ptolemaic period
dpa/picture alliance via Getty I

By the time he talked to the informant, Bogdanos had already opened up a jury investigation.

A probe found that looters had dug up the tomb, then in 2013 sent it to Hassan Fazeli, an antiquities dealer in Sharjah, a city in the United Arab Emirates. Fazeli wrote up an export form where he mislabeled the artifact as Greco-Roman in order to cover up the tomb’s real origins, according to the podcast. The relic was then sold to Roben Dib, manager of the Dionysos Gallery in Hamburg, Germany, Lewis said. Dib constructed the restoration process of the tomb and allegedly faked an Egyptian export license that said it was the coffin of Nedjemankh and it had been legally exported in 1971.

kim kardashian
Kim Kardashian at the 2018 Met Gala
Getty Images for The Met Museum/

And so the chain continued. The coffin was then shipped off to French antiquities scholar and dealer Christophe Kunicki and his colleague Richard Semper. While it’s unclear if they knew of the coffin’s origins, they sold it to the Met, which agreed to fork over $4 million.

But the looters had mistakenly left a finger bone inside the coffin, where it remained when the artifact arrived at the Met.

German police arrested Dib in August 2020, and, according to the Art Newspaper, he maintains that “all the export documents were legit.”

The gold-encrusted coffin was returned to Cairo in 2019. Met CEO Daniel Weiss apologized to Egypt’s people, especially to antiquities minister Khaled El-Enany.

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The tomb was returned to Egypt in 2019.
AFP via Getty Images

“After we learned that the museum was a victim of fraud and unwittingly participated in the illegal trade of antiquities, we worked with the DA’s office for its return to Egypt,” Weiss said in a statement.

Museum officials added that it would “consider all available remedies to recoup the purchase price of the coffin” and they vowed to “review and revise its acquisitions process” in the future.

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