An undisclosed federal government employee at the General Services Administration has disclosed that the Lost Ark of the Covenant, placed in a secret private warehouse for safe keeping in the 1940s, was sold to an anonymous buyer at a storage lien sale.
The United States Department of State had failed to pay the annual registration fee of the Colorado shell corporation that had been paying the warehouse storage fees since the 1940s because Colorado Secretary of State stopped sending paper copies of the renewal notice to registered agents. An undisclosed civil servant made a typo when entering the contact e-mail address for the Colorado shell corporation when the transition took place, causing the notice to go to an unrelated import-export corporation that ignored it. As a result of its lapsed registration, the Colorado shell corporation did not receive the notice of enforcement of storage lien that would have otherwise been sent through its registered agent to individual at the General Services Administration responsible for the Secretary of State's domestic office and storage space. So, the Ark of the Covenant was sold by the warehouse company to a cash buyer at a storage lien auction, who saw only a large, unlabeled wooden crate containing it when making the bid, for two hundred dollars in 2008. Two other bidders had dropped out of the bidding at $40 and $160 respectively.
The General Services Agency discovered the incident in early 2011, and its Inspector General conducted a confidential investigation. But, the Inspect General's office has been unable to locate any sign of the highly significant religious artifact on public market listings or E-Bay or Craig's List postings since then and there has been no rumor of the discovery among private artifact dealers that the Inspector General's office could locate.
Given that the adverse possession period for personal property is three years in Nevada, and that a storage lien sale to a bona fide purchaser for value generally extinguishes all other claims to title, it isn't clear that the sale could have been undone, even if the buyer was discovered. The U.S. Antiquities Act does not apply either, because the Ark is not a U.S. source antiquity and may not have even been in the lawful possession of the United States government which reputedly seized it without any claim of title from the German government during World War II as war spoils and reputedly knew that Nazi Germany had in turn taken it without any claim of title from its previous lawful owners.