Controversy grows as two auction houses in Paris prepare to sell 50 pieces of Mesoamerican art.
The auctions include artifacts belonging to several ancient civilizations, including the Maya and Teotihuacan cultures.
Mexico’s federal government has issued several complaints requesting that the auctions be halted, but these pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
Mexicans opposed to the sale of the artifacts are also making their voices heard on social media by using the hashtag #MiPatrinominoNoSeVende — which translates as my heritage is not for sale.
“We are once again expressing our outrage at the sale of these artifacts. These pieces were taken out of Mexico illegally and their sale is an afront to dozens of cultures which have been systematically pillaged over centuries,” noted Mexican author and researcher Beatriz Gutiérrez Mueller wrote on Facebook.
The auction of Mexican antiquities has become fairly common in several countries around the world including The United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Selling archaeological artifacts is illegal in Mexico and can carry fines upwards of 200,000 pesos and 10 years in prison. Removing pre-Hispanic artifacts from Mexico is considered a serious federal crime.
The bulk of the artifacts in question are reported to have belonged to a privately owned collection in New York made up of artifacts expatriated from Mexico in 1989.
However, artifacts extracted from the country before 1934 remain in a legal gray area as at that time no law banning the practice was in effect.
Nonetheless, the auction houses involved in the upcoming sales argue that they are breaking no laws.
Some of the most notable items up for auction include a sculpture of a two-headed jaguar, a sculpture extracted from the Island of Jaina in Campeche, and a ceramic vase depicting scenes from the Poc ta Poc Mesoamerican ballgame.
Several of the pieces in the collection are expected to reach prices in the tens of thousands of euros.