Mexico against auction of pre-Hispanic artefacts in Paris

Teotihuacan serpentine mask CREDIT: Christies

THE Mexican government is once again outraged that pre-Hispanic archaeological artefacts are being auctioned in Paris.

Auction house Christie’s has scheduled an auction of 39 works from “a notable European collection” for February 9 in the French capital.

From Mexico it has been argued that such items “rightfully belong to them and should be returned rather than sold off”.

In this lot, named “Quetzalcoatl, The Feathered Serpent” there are 33 pieces from Mexico.

The most valuable is an 87-centimeter figure of fertility goddess Cihuateotl, from El Zapotal, Veracruz, priced at between €600,000 and €900,000.

Another is the Teotihuacan serpentine mask, which is valued at €350,000 to €550,000 and according to Christie’s dates from around 450-650 AD.

It was said to have been part of the collection of Pierre Matisse, the youngest son of Henri Matisse.

Mexican historian and archaeologist Daniel Salinas Cordova, denounced the auction on Twitter, and commented that the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) and the Mexican Embassy in France had not made any statement about it.

Hours later, the embassy replied and thanked him for “highlighting the negative impact of these private sales.”

Acting upon the instructions of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the embassy submitted a request asking for the auction to be stopped and for the origin of the pieces to be evaluated, the Mexican press reports.

Mexico has previously failed in its attempts to stop auctions of pre-Hispanic artefacts in Paris although the National Institute of Anthropology and History has recovered Mexican artefacts from other countries.


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Written by

Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.

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