Mexico requested the cancellation of a pre-Columbian art auction in France


Mexico requested the cancellation of a pre-Columbian art auction scheduled for Wednesday in Paris, via the Mexican ambassador to France, Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo

Mexico requested the cancellation of a pre-Columbian art auction scheduled for Wednesday in Paris, in a new government initiative aimed at defending abroad what it considers its cultural heritage.

For its part, the Millon house that organizes the sale explained to the AFP that the auction is maintained and that “it reserves the right to react after the auction,” according to its president, Alexandre Millon.

Of the more than 120 pieces that the Millon house will release, “95 come from the cultural heritage of Mexico” and some “could prove to be newly created imitations,” Mexican ambassador to France, Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo, said in French on Tuesday. , based on the results of an expert opinion of the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico.

Last week, Guatemala announced that Millon had suspended the sale of one of the pre-Hispanic pieces included in that auction, the fragment of a Mayan archeological stele belonging to its cultural heritage, following the actions undertaken by the government.

For Gómez Robledo the cancellation of the sale would be “a first step towards the return of authentic cultural property to Mexico.” 

He explained that the majority of objects come from “Teotihuacán, Guerrero and Oaxaca, and from southeastern Mexico, a region of Olmec and Mayan culture.”

This type of trade encourages pillage, illegal trafficking and imitation practiced by organized transnational crime, “said the diplomat, regretting that these pieces later became” simple objects of decoration. “

Venus of fertility, masks, small statues and other pieces from private collections will be auctioned in Paris, with estimates ranging from several hundred euros to 90,000 euros ($ 99,000), the maximum price foreseen for a gold ornament carried by a shaman during religious ceremonies and dated between 200 BC and 200 AD in Colombia.

According to Gómez Robledo, Colombia also supported the Mexican initiative.

Mexico has claimed on more than one occasion the suspension of pre-Columbian art sales in Paris, as happened in 2013 with the Barbier-Mueller collection.


Gómez Robledo stressed that for the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, cultural heritage is one of “the priorities of foreign policy.”

He pointed out that a complaint was filed for which the Prosecutor of the Republic sent a request for cooperation in criminal matters to the French Ministry of Justice, while UNESCO was alerted to verify the origin of the pieces. 

Mexico also believes that the French government could from now on be more receptive to these requests, due to “the change in attitude” promoted by President Emmanuel Macron, who said last year that “the heritage of Africa cannot only be in the private collections and European museums. ” 

“That is applicable to the heritage of the indigenous peoples of Latin America,” said the ambassador.

This is the first government action in power since the end of 2018 to try to suspend a pre-Columbian art auction in Paris, on behalf of the safeguarding of cultural heritage.

However, the executive launched other protests in front of two large fashion houses, Carolina Herrera and Louis Vuitton, accusing them of cultural appropriation in some of their creations.

Source: excelsior

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