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One of the lots up for auction. One of the lots up for auction. Its estimated price is 3,000 euros, or US $3,540.

Mexico asks German auction house to halt sale of 74 historical artifacts

Government says they are the property of Mexico

The federal Culture Ministry and the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have filed a complaint against a German auction house that intends to sell 74 Mexican artifacts at an auction next week.

The two entities filed the complaint with the federal Attorney General’s Office against the Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger society, an international dealer and auction house based in Munich.

The Culture Ministry said Monday that it also asked the legal division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide diplomatic assistance with the intention of stopping the event.

Furthermore, Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto Guerrero wrote to the auction house to inform it that INAH has determined that 74 of the archaeological relics it intends to sell “are property of the Mexican nation, in accordance with the Federal Law on Monuments and Archaeological, Artistic and Historic Zones,” the ministry said in a statement.

The auction catalogue includes numerous pre-Hispanic clay figurines as well as masks and other artifacts of the Olmec, Mayan, Mexica and Mixtec cultures, among others.

Frausto told the auctioneer that the sale of such objects constitutes a crime in accordance with Mexican law and promotes trafficking of archaeological artifacts by transnational organized crime groups.

The culture minister asked the auction house to take the necessary measures to stop the sale “for [the purpose of] their eventual recovery,” the Culture Ministry said.

The federal government has previously attempted to stop the sale of Mexican artifacts at auctions in Paris and New York but failed. It has claimed that objects put on the block were looted from archaeological sites and/or illegally removed from the country.

Mexico News Daily 

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