Mexico continues to exert efforts in restituting many of the pre-Columbian treasures taken by colonizers, which up to now are being sold in auction houses. Mexico’s government officials recently put a stop to the auction two pre-Columbian artifacts in Paris.
In order to appreciate the restitution actions steps being carried out by Mexico, understand that pre-Columbian objects particularly artifacts that originated during the mesoamerican era before the arrival of Genoese explorer Christoper Columbus.
Recent Auction Sale of Pre-Columbian Artifacts Halted by the Mexican Government
The most recent auction sale halted by the Mexican government was in November 02 at the Artculiar in Paris, which a collection of pre-Columbian objects along with some Islamic artifacts were put up for bidding.
Another auction was set to take place at Christie’s on November 10, is for a private collection of Taino and pre-Columbian treasures has been stopped.
The Mexican Embassy in France released a statement that conveyed their great concern about the legitimacy of the auction sales. Mexican officials emphasized in the letter that permitting the commercialization of archaeological pieces is tantamount to endorsing a transnational crime. Many engage in illegal excavations to dig out cultural property, which instead of being surrendered to the Mexican government are being smuggled out of the country to be sold to the highest bidder.
Mexico Calls on German Government to Put an End to the Auction Sale of Smuggled Mexican Treasures
Last September 20, the Mexican government stopped a German auction house from selling 36 of Mexico’s listed artifacts including an Olmec mask and figurine. According to El Universal, there were actually a total of 67 listed original Mexican pieces listed in the auction house’s sales catalogue. Diplomats across seven Latin American countries assembled to hold a joint press conference to call the attention of the German government to put an end to the auction of looted or smuggled treasures.
The Mexican government, through the Mexican Secretary of Culture Alejandra Fraustro , sent a letter directly to a Munich-based dealer named Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger. The letter specifically stated that archaeological objects are considered as “national patrimony” of which ownership belongs to the Mexican people through the the Instituto Nacional de Arqueologia e Historia.