Tuesday 19 March 2013

More Sotheby’s Barbier-Mueller Pre-Colombian Sale items claimed.

More Sotheby’s Barbier-Mueller Pre-Colombian Sale items are being claimed before the sale in three days' time (M. Frechette, 'Red Flags in Paris: Half of Sotheby’s Barbier-Mueller Pre-Colombian Sale Lacks Provenance', Chasing Aphrodite blog 19th March 2013).

Following the news that Peru has already announced it is seeking the return of 67 Pre-Colombian objects in the Barbier-Mueller collection which it claims were illegally exported from the country, unsurprisingly  the governments of two other countries are making similar claims.

Guatemala has made a claim for 13 objects in the collection. ”You cannot allow private collectors to unlawfully enrich themselves at the expense of the Americas’ pre-Hispanic cultural heritage,” the culture ministry said in a statement.

Now Mexico has claimed 51 of the 131 objects of Mexican origin.
As M. Flechette notes:
Latin America has not been in the spotlight for cultural heritage claims to the same degree as Italy or Greece in recent years, but the illicit trade of pre-Columbian objects is a serious and continuing problem for countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil and Peru. Along with UNESCO’s international effort to increase protection of cultural heritage, Latin American countries passed a flurry of national legislation in the 1970s to establish legal ownership of cultural property. More recently, the International Council of Museums has published several Red Lists of Endangered Cultural Objects. Compiled by an international group of cultural heritage professionals to combat the illicit trade and rampant looting of national artifacts, “all the categories of objects in the Red List are protected by legislation and banned from export, and may under no circumstances be imported or put on sale.”  ICOM could not be more explicit: “The Red List is an appeal to museums, auction houses, art dealers and collectors not to acquire these objects.” A glance though the Barbier-Mueller catalogue shows quite a bit of overlap with the Red Lists — from Nayarit and Olmec figures to Gran Nicoya stone grindstones, many of the categories of objects on sale in Paris on March 22nd are internationally recognized as the product of rampant looting.

1 comment:

Damien Huffer said...

Of course, as Dr. Yates points out, it will depend on which exact laws each country uses, and how old these laws are. Seems like Mexico and Guatemala are using legal measures from the 1970s and 60s; thus (in my opinion) more relevant?

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