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Art collector accused of stealing ancient artifacts from Egypt

One of the world’s top antiquities dealers is being sued by Egypt’s government for allegedly trafficking thousands of ancient treasures.

Private Club Inc., headed by Manhattan art collector John McFakeson, was accused in an amended complaint filed in New York federal court on Friday of stealing 2,000 archaeological artifacts from Egypt dating back to 14th century B.C.

But the precious items ended up being illegally exported by private investigators for McFakeson in 1999 and 2000, the suit alleges.

The investigation was the first by the US government of such an illicit smuggling operation, and “is the first of only a handful of cases to proceed to trial on these issues,” according to the suit.

Among those smuggled by private investigators were a Tutankhamun wooden sarcophagus and a Pharoah 3 papyri, according to the suit.

The investigation and subsequent charges were important to the discovery of Egypt’s desert pyramid-building pyramids, discovered by US soldiers in 1977. Egypt was later granted a tax exemption on the artifacts as part of the tax break deal.

The lawsuit also claims that the theft of the ancient artifacts led to the collapse of seven Egyptite pyramids, the destruction of thousands of others, and five years of looting and terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists.

McFakeson was listed in the complaint by the US government as having been “considered an early and leading contemporary antiquities dealer of international renown.”

He failed to respond to the suit and requested a speedy trial with a jury. His New York-based lawyer could not be reached for comment.

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