Peru claims artifacts in upcoming Sotheby’s auction were “obtained in an illicit manner” – UPDATED WITH SALE RESULTS
UPDATE: Additional sales coverage here.
The Sotheby’s March 22, 2013 auction of 313 lots of pre-Columbian artifacts from the Barbier-Muller collection has gotten the attention of Peruvian officials who claim that some 67 works in the sale were illicitly removed from Peru. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Peru’s government believes that some Pre-Columbian pieces of art to be auctioned by Sotheby’s (BID) in Paris in March were taken out of Peru without proper permission decades ago.
The Peruvian government says that it has no information about how the pieces left Peru for the collection.
“It is possible to deduce that their exportation must have been clandestine, given that from April 2, 1822 Peruvian regulations prohibit the removing of archaeological goods without government authorization,” the Ministry of Culture said.
The government said it plans to “act rapidly to place charges that these goods were presumably obtained in an illicit manner.”
The article continues:
Sotheby’s said in an email that it has not been contacted by Peru’s Culture Ministry, “but as is our practice, we would give careful consideration to any inquiry.”
“The works in the Barbier-Mueller collection have long ownership and exhibition histories, and matters like this relating to ancient artifacts typically depend on precise facts about the historical background of individual pieces,” the auction house said.
In an interview with Sotheby’s magazine, Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller said that he has long collected Pre-Columbian art.