The effort to stop the trafficking of pre-Hispanic art never stops. Over the past few years, the art world has seen a steady stream of efforts to repatriate objects that, in many cases, were ready to be auctioned at major auction houses.
Last month, after receiving an anonymous tip, Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office reported the seizure of 14 Teotihuacan objects that were to be shipped from a Tijuana post office.
According to the newspaper Jornada, they were clay and obsidian masks and basements and objects.
The package, whose pieces cover different periods of the Mesoamerican culture, especially the Tzacualli, Late Xololpan, and Metepec phases, which range from the year one to 750 AD, according to a report from the Baja California delegation of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), was sent from Mexico City to this border with the intention of taking them out of the country to the United States.
The operation was carried out by agents of the Federal Ministerial Police of the Criminal Investigation Agency of the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic, who secured and transferred the pieces to the government offices in Baja California, where they were integrated into an investigation folder.
This event took place three weeks after Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and the Dominican Republic denounced a new auction of pre-Columbian objects held in Paris under the Evrad de Rouvre and Van den Broek d’Obrenan collection in charge of ADER.
As reported by the newspaper Debate, so far in 2022, at least four auctions of pre-Columbian art have been held in different auction houses in the French capital that have put hundreds of pre-Columbian art objects up for sale.
For the seven Latin American countries, these transactions “deprive the subtracted pieces of their cultural, historical and symbolic essence, reducing them to mere decorative objects for private individuals.”
In addition, they encourage “looting, plundering, illicit trafficking and laundering of goods.”