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France thumbs nose at U.S., allows sale of Hopi artifacts

| Friday, April 12, 2013, 9:27 p.m.

PARIS — In a chaotic auction repeatedly interrupted by protests, dozens of Native American tribal masks were sold Friday after a French court ignored the objections of the Hopi tribe and the U.S. government.

The total tally was $1.2 million, with the most expensive, the “Mother Crow,” selling for $209,000 — more than three times the pre-sale estimate.

Advocates for the Hopi tribe had argued in court the masks have special status and are not art — they represent their dead ancestors' spirits.

But the auctioneer insisted any move to block the sale could have broad repercussions for the art market in general and potentially force French museums to empty their collections of indigenous works.

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