The sale, which totalled was almost £640 000, was challenged by US government officials. However, Drouot went ahead with the sale as they said it did comply with French law.

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Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim said of the masks they are "living and breathing beings" and therefore should not be sold as lots.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 15.17.04 Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim

Hopi Kachina dolls were also sold in the sale which caused the US embassy in Paris to demand a suspension on the sale in order to conclude if the items had been stolen from the Navajo and Hopi tribes.

In a somewhat happy ending, the tribe managed to purchase back the masks for nearly £6 000.

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