Mexico urges halt to artefact auction in France

MEXICO CITY (AFP) – Mexico on Tuesday (Feb 2) called on auction house Christie’s to cancel the planned sale of around 30 pre-Hispanic artefacts in France next week, challenging the authenticity of several items.

“The archaeological assets of our country are the property of the nation,” said Mr Diego Prieto, director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History, which has asked Mexico’s Foreign Ministry to recover the objects.

“They are beyond any act of commerce,” he told a news conference.

Of the 33 items being offered for auction on Feb 9 in Paris, Mexico has determined that three are “false”, and while they may be handicrafts, they are not archaeological pieces, he said.

The disputed items include a stone mask said to be from the Teotihuacan culture. It has an estimated value of up to €550,000 (S$882,000), according to Christie’s.

In recent years, Mexico has sought to recover artefacts found in private collections around the world, but with limited success.

In 2019, Mexico unsuccessfully requested the cancellation of a pre-Columbian art auction organised by the French house Millon.

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