Pre-Hispanic artifacts bring in over US $ 650,000 at auction in New York

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Nineteen of Mexico’s 24 pre-Hispanic artifacts were sold for a combined total of just under US $ 657,500 in a week-long online auction in New York City that ended on Tuesday.

Arguing that they are part of the cultural history of Mexico and should not be sold, the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico (INAH) said last week that it would take legal action for attempt to stop the auction of pre-Hispanic artefacts in Sotheby’s New York auction house.

However, he ultimately could not stop the sale of masks, pottery and stone carvings from states such as Veracruz, Colima, Jalisco and Zacatecas.

More than half of the revenue from the sale of Mexican artifacts came from the purchase of a Mayan stone effigy, which sold for $ 352,800, well above its estimated selling price of 50,000 to 70,000 $.

Made between 550 AD and 950 AD, the Late Classical period piece – an artifact related to the Mesoamerican ball game that is believed to depict a bat, jaguar, and snake – was acquired by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, in 1944.

The auction house lists two former owners – one in New York, the other in London – but does not say when or under what conditions the artifact left Mexico.

Other Mexican pieces sold at auction included a Mayan orangery vessel of an AD 250-450 water bird, which cost $ 47,880; an Olmec green stone figure from 900 to 300 BC. AD with a supernatural mask (also $ 47,880); a kneeling female Nayarit figure from 100 BC. an Olmec stone bird monster from 900-300 BC ($ 37,800); a bright red Veracruz stone Manopla from 100 BC. an Olmec serpentine head 900-300 BC ($ 9,450); a Jalisco figure of a united couple ($ 13,860); and a standing female figure from 1200 to 900 BC Tlatilco ($ 10,710).

As is the case with the bat-jaguar-snake effigy, the conditions under which other pre-Hispanic artifacts left Mexico are unclear.

Mexico claims that many pre-Hispanic artifacts offered for sale by foreign auction houses were looted from archaeological sites. He also claimed that some items offered for sale in the past were counterfeit.

The federal government has previously tried to stop auctions of pre-Hispanic artifacts in Paris, but has failed. Most recently, 27 of the 33 Mexican pieces were sold in the French capital by auction house Christie’s in February.

INAH has, however, recovered Mexican artifacts from other countries, including Italy, Germany, and the United States.

Source: El País (sp)

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