Thursday, June 11, 2009
Agents Search Home for Artifacts
By Polly Summar
Journal Northern Bureau
SANTA FE Agents descended Wednesday on the home of former gallery owner Forrest Fenn armed with a search warrant seeking eagle feathers, ancient American Indian artifacts and sacred items, as well as a series of records dealing with sale or possible illegal possession of such items.
Even a mummified falcon reputed to be from King Tut's tomb, allegedly taken by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat from the Cairo Museum to give as a gift, apparently ended up in Fenn's hands prompting searchers to include in the warrant "correspondence from the government of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Forrest Fenn."
The story of the falcon, according to the affidavit, was based on taped and monitored conversations an informant had with Fenn over the last year. Fenn sells Indian artifacts and other items online at www.oldsantafetradingco.com.
Videos and audiotapes led agents to believe many items Fenn collected over the years may have come from public lands or may be sacred items that could not be legally taken from tribes, according to the affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque in support of the search warrant.
Fenn did not return calls from the Journal on Wednesday.
Vehicles surrounding Fenn's home at 1021 Old Santa Fe Trail came from a number of federal agencies, including the FBI, the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Department.
"I can confirm that we executed a federal search warrant at that address this morning," said Darrin Jones, spokesman for the FBI in New Mexico.
The search, Jones said, was part of the same case in which some two dozen people were indicted in a sweeping federal investigation into ancient artifacts stolen from public and tribal lands in the Southwest.
An undercover source purchased 256 artifacts in 2007 and 2008 Anasazi pottery, an assortment of burial and ceremonial masks, a buffalo headdress, arrowheads, hair ornaments and more totaling $335,685.