PARIS — In a chaotic auction repeatedly interrupted by protests, dozens of Native American tribal masks were sold Friday after a French court rejected the objections of the Hopi tribe and the U.S. government.
The total tally was 931,000 euros ($1.2 million), with the most expensive, the “Mother Crow” mask, selling for 160,000 euros ($209,000) — more than three times the pre-sale estimate.
Of the 70 masks up for sale, one was bought by an association to give back to the Hopis, the Drouot auction house said.
Advocates for the Hopi tribe had argued in court the masks have special status and are not art — they represent their dead ancestors’ spirits. The Hopis, a Native American tribe whose territory is surrounded by Arizona, nurture the masks as if they are the living dead. Read more.