An auction of pre-colonial Latin American artifacts begins today at the Société Binoche et Giquello in Paris.
Artifacts include carvings, effigy vessels, jade jewelry, grave offerings, pottery, stone and metal from Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru.
This auction follows efforts by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to prevent such sales. On Wednesday, Obrador banned Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History from verifying the authenticity of artifacts up for auction. Obrador and representatives from several Central American countries unsuccessfully tried to stop an auction of artifacts at the Paris branch of Christie’s last November. Mexico has successfully repatriated nearly 6,000 artifacts since AMLO’s election in 2018.
Expect many lots from the auction to remain unsold as collectors seek to avoid bad publicity. AMLO will continue to try to shut down the auctions and will claim the success of any shutdowns to bolster its popularity in Mexico and the rest of Latin America. Expect auctions and sales of Latin American art and cultural objects to decline over the next decade as countries in the region adopt a unified repatriation policy. Transatlantic cooperation to stop the trade in artifacts will also increase over time as Europe seeks simple ways to improve relations with Latin America.
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