The annual Met gala is easily one of the most talked-about soirées for about a million reasons—chief among which are the red carpet looks that took months to create. That said, some Met galas, like the 2018 event, are discussed for reasons other than the eye-catching fashion. That year, Kim Kardashian made noise for both her outfit, a form-fitting Atelier Versace sparkly, golden-corseted gown, and her unrealized sleuthing skills. The middle Kardashian sister’s seemingly harmless photo with an ancient Egyptian coffin, which just so happened to match her golden ensemble, helped Matthew Bogdanos, assistant district attorney in Manhattan and former leader of the D.A.’s antiquities trafficking unit, solve a criminally led mystery, the New York Post has reported.
The circa first-century B.C.E golden and gem-encrusted coffin of high-ranking Egyptian priest Nedjemankh had quite the dramatic postmortem journey from the al-Minya region of Egypt to the hallowed halls of New York City’s beloved Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2011, during Egypt’s 18-day-long revolution, a group of thieves dug up the coffin and, two years later, sent it to an antiquities dealer in Sharjah, the third-largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates.
The dealer, Hassan Fazeli, forged an export form on which he intentionally mislabeled the ancient stele as Greco-Roman, so as not to raise any red flags about the coffin’s real origins. Fazeli soon sold it to Roben Dib, the manager of Germany’s famed Dionysos Hamburg. He wasn’t so innocent either: As soon as Dib came into possession of the tomb, he was said to have faked an Egyptian export license claiming it was the coffin of Nedjemankh and that it had been exported legally 40 years earlier. Of course, none of that was true, but he wanted to protect himself from being implicated in a now international crime ring.
Nedjemankh’s coffin eventually made it to the Met in 2018 by way of a French antiquities scholar and a dealer (Christophe Kunicki and Richard Semper, respectively), who may not have known where the relic had been before it reached them. The pair sold it to the Met, which had unknowingly joined the highly illegal trade of antiquities, to the tune of $4 million. The investigators were able to identify the sought-after coffin because the original looters had accidentally left a finger bone behind, proving that it was, indeed, Nedjemankh’s coffin. After Kardashian’s photo went viral, Dib was arrested in Hamburg, and the tomb had been safely returned to Cairo. Kudos to Kardashian for solving what investigators had previously considered an unsolvable mystery by doing what she does best: posting a photo of herself.