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Paris court rules to allow auction of Native American artifacts despite US call for delay

A Paris court has ruled to allow an auction of dozens of Native American tribal masks opposed by the Hopi tribe and its supporters including actor Robert Redford, and despite the U.S. government's plea for the sale to be delayed.

The potentially landmark decision with transatlantic repercussions means the planned sale can go ahead across town later Friday.

The auctioneer argued that blocking the sale would have tremendous implications and potentially force French museums to empty their collections. Arizona's Hopi Indians insist the masks were stolen spiritual vessels — and want them back.

The striking masks feature surreal faces made from wood, leather, horse hair and feathers, painted in vivid colors.

The U.S. Ambassador to France on Thursday asked the French government and the auction house to delay the sale.