Coveted Hopi mask at controversial Paris auction fetches $210,000

Paris, Apr 12 (EFE).- The most coveted piece in a controversial auction of Hopi Indian artifacts - the Angwusnasomtaqa, or Mother Crow, mask - fetched 160,000 euros ($210,000) on Friday after a court in the French capital allowed the sale of the items to proceed.

The 70-piece collection brought in a total of 931,435 euros (roughly $1.2 million) and was sold to "great art lovers" who preferred to remain anonymous, organizers told Efe.

The auction was held after the court ruled Friday morning against a group of representatives of the Arizona tribe who had argued the objects are sacred and should not be allowed to be sold.

Most of the objects up for sale at Paris's Drouot auction house were masks made of wood, leather, vegetable fibers and natural pigments that were the property of a now-retired French collector, who had lived in the United States in the 1930s and bought the items at galleries and auctions.

Two protesters were expelled from the auction floor after shouting that sacred items were being sold; the auction director retorted that "sacred objects are sold every day."

Survival International, a group that campaigns for the rights of indigenous tribal peoples, had sought an urgent court injunction to block the auction.

But despite a letter of protest from the U.S. Embassy, the auction was allowed to go forward as scheduled after the court found the items to be art objects that do not represent human beings.