GUATEMALA CITY: Guatemala has made claims to 13 archeological pieces set to go under the hammer at a Sotheby’s auction house sale in Paris next week.
In auctions scheduled for March 22 and 23, Sotheby’s is planning to sell items that belonged to the now-shuttered Barbier-Mueller Pre-Columbian Art Museum, including a little more than 300 archeological pieces from Central and South America.
Guatemalan law “prohibits the sale and export of all articles that make up our cultural heritage, such as archeological pieces,” the Guatemalan Culture Ministry said in a statement.
It did not indicate which particular artifacts were in question among the figurines, jewelry, masks, vessels and furniture being sold for an estimated $1,300 to $3.9 million.
Stressing that even the museum described the items as emanating from Guatemalan Mayan culture, the Culture Ministry insisted that the pieces were “the unique, exclusive and legitimate property of the state of Guatemala.”
Authorities expect their colleagues in France to “intervene and enforce the requests made by the parties involved in Latin American countries,” the statement added.
“You cannot allow private collectors to unlawfully enrich themselves at the expense of the Americas’ pre-Hispanic cultural heritage.”