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Another Provenance-challenged Pre-Columbian Art auction in Paris, March 2014

March 22, 2014
Lot 24. Important Sitting Person Culture Jama - Coaque, Manabí, Ecuador 500 BC to AD 500 H. 40,5 cm - L. 23 cm Estimate: €20,000-30,000. Provenance - Private French Collection

Lot 24. Important Sitting Person
Culture Jama – Coaque, Manabí, Ecuador
500 BC to AD 500
H. 40,5 cm – L. 23 cm
Estimate: €20,000-30,000. This lot failed to sell.
Provenance – Private French Collection

UPDATE: Results of the sale have been posted, and 68 of the 158 lots sold – 90 lots bought in. Not exactly a sustainable business model.

The 158-lot Pre-Columbian art auction by Binoche et Giquello at Drouot in Paris on March 28, 2014, is stocked largely with artifacts that lack a published pre-1970 provenance, and more than 50% of the work in this sale has no published provenance at all (download the catalogue and see for yourself). The “pre-1970″ refers to the date of an international UNESCO convention aimed at halting the looting of antiquities. As the New York Times reported: ‘In 2004 the Association of Art Museum Directors declared “member museums should not acquire” any undocumented works “that were removed after November 1970, regardless of any applicable statutes of limitation.”’ Numerous American museums – including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Boston’s Museum of Fine Art and the Getty in Los Angeles – have been forced to return looted antiquities to their host countries.” It’s a standard I believe should apply to private collectors as well as museums and other institutions.

Of the 158 lots, 86 have no published provenance, an additional 54 do not have a published pre-1970 provenance (such as Lot 24 above), 13 do have a published pre-1970 provenance, and five more are unclear.  Here are a few more works without published pre-1970 provenance.

Lot 111. Anthropomorphic Figure. Culture Veracruz, Remojadas style, Mexico  Classic, 450-650 AD H. 50 cm - L. 24 cm Estimate: €12,000-14,000. Provenance: Galerie Mermoz, Paris, 1982.

Lot 111. Anthropomorphic Figure.
Culture Veracruz, Remojadas style, Mexico
Classic, 450-650 AD
H. 50 cm – L. 24 cm
Estimate: €12,000-14,000. This lot failed to sell.
Provenance: Galerie Mermoz, Paris, 1982.

Lot 112. Yoke/collar Culture Veracruz, Gulf Coast, Mexico  Classic, 450-650 AD H. 12 cm - L. 32,5 cm Estimate: €35,000-40,000. Provenance: None published.

Lot 112. Yoke/collar
Culture Veracruz, Gulf Coast, Mexico
Classic, 450-650 AD
H. 12 cm – L. 32,5 cm
Estimate: €35,000-40,000. This lot failed to sell.
Provenance: None published.

Lot 121. STATUE OF TYPE "SMILEY"  Culture Veracruz, Mexico  Classic, 450-650 AD H. 40 cm - L. 25,5 cm Estimate: 8,000-10,000. Provenance: French Private Collection.

Lot 121. STATUE OF TYPE “SMILEY”
Culture Veracruz, Mexico
Classic, 450-650 AD
H. 40 cm – L. 25,5 cm
Estimate: 8,000-10,000. This lot failed to sell.
Provenance: French Private Collection.

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