Mar 22, 2013
By Michael Kramer
Sotheby’s in Paris moved onward today with a sale of pre-Columbian artifacts despite claims by four Latin American nations that many of the 313 items had been illegally exported.
About half of the 162 items up for auction on the first day of the two day sale were sold.
The most valuable items were a ceramic Tarascan flying duck, which sold for about $2 million, and a ceramic Chupicuaro “Venus” statuette, which sold for about $2.6 million.
Both of them were on a list of 51 artifacts claimed by Mexico earlier this week when its National Institute of Anthropology and Archeology urged the auction house to cancel the sale. In a statement before the sale, Sotheby’s said that during the last six months it “thoroughly researched the provenance of this collection and we are confident in offering these works for auction.”
The sale features items from the Barbier-Mueller collection, considered one of the most valuable pre-Columbian collections in private hands.
Three other nations, Peru, Guatemala and Costa Rica, have also put claims on items in the auction.