Published On: Tue, Nov 18th, 2014

Prehispanic artifacts auctioned despite Mexico objections

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The London-based Bonhams auction house sold off a collection of pre-Hispanic artifacts on Wednesday, November 12th, 2014, over the objections of the Mexican government, which says at least half the pieces are fake and the rest rightly belong to it as national heritage.

Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) says at least half of the more than 100 pieces are fake. INAH says the rest rightfully belong to the country of Mexico and has vowed legal action to reclaim the objects that are genuine.

Bonhams has carried out an auction of pre-Hispanic artifacts despite the objections of the Mexican government.

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Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) says at least half of the more than 100 pieces are fake. The country says the rest rightfully belong to it and has vowed legal action to reclaim the objects that are genuine. (Photo: INAH)

Bonhams spokeswoman Lucinda Bredin says the British auction house takes such claims seriously and is evaluating the “new information” about the collection. She says Bonhams thoroughly investigates the provenance of all items it auctions to ensure it meets legal requirements.

The auction opened Wednesday morning in New York with about 15 people present. Bids were also taken by phone and Internet.

The collection includes about 155 ceramics, sculptures and vases from the Aztec, Maya and other cultures.

Under a 1972 law, Mexico prohibited the purchase and sale of archaeological pieces, but allowed some previously existing collections to remain in private hands if they were registered with the government.

Mexico has demanded the halt of auctions in the past, with mixed results.

In 2013, the Mexican government demanded that Sotheby’s auction house and the French government halt the planned sale of 51 pre-Columbian artifacts that were part of 300-piece Barbier-Mueller Collection. The auction went ahead anyways.

Source: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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