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Former Louvre President Charged in Antiquities Trafficking Case

Former Louvre President Charged in Antiquities Trafficking Case

Former Louvre President Charged in Antiquities Trafficking Case

Jean-Luc Martinez, who served as president of the Louvre Museum in Paris from 2013 to 2021, was charged yesterday, Might 25 for complicity in fraud and concealing the origin of works reportedly smuggled out of Egypt and bought for the museum’s Abu Dhabi location.

The fees stem from the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s 2016 buy of antiquities that had been allegedly pillaged in the course of the Arab Spring — the early 2010s protests that started in Egypt and unfold throughout the area. The museum bought 5 now-disputed antiquities for $8.5 million {dollars}, together with a 1237 BCE granite stele stating a royal decree from King Tutankhamun.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi within the United Arab Emirates (through Flickr)

French authorities opened the investigation in 2018, two years after the museum’s buy. In March, they arrested German-Lebanese gallery proprietor, Robin Dib, who facilitated the sale. Dib was detained in Hamburg and extradited to Paris.

In accordance with the satirical French information outlet that broke the story, Canard enchaîné, investigators are looking for to find out whether or not Martinez turned a blind eye to the inauthenticity of certificates establishing the works’ provenance.

Martinez was taken into custody for questioning by France’s Central Workplace for the Struggle in opposition to Trafficking in Cultural Property. Two Egyptologists who labored with Martinez on the Louvre had been additionally introduced in for questioning, however not like Martinez, they weren’t charged.

Martinez has denied the accusations.

Since stepping down from his put up on the Louvre in 2021, Martinez now serves as an envoy for the French overseas ministry on cultural heritage. In February 2022, France organized a UNESCO convention on preventing unlawful artwork trafficking by way of intra-European cooperation, held on the Louvre.

In a small exhibition that closed in February of this yr, the Louvre displayed 4 statues from Libya that had been seized by French customs in an tried smuggling operation. The exhibition known as particular consideration to the impact of the Arab Spring protests on the unlawful antiquity commerce, which benefited from an enhance in looting and subsequent gross sales of Egyptian antiquities to worldwide patrons.

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Lid of the coffin of Nedjemankh (through Wikimedia Commons)

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Artwork acquired one such object — a gold coffin taken from Egypt in the course of the protests in 2011. The coffin made its manner by way of the United Arab Emirates, Germany, and France earlier than the Met bought it in 2017 for nearly $4 million. In 2019, the Manhattan district legal professional’s workplace seized the coffin from one of many museum’s galleries, the place it was on show; nobody linked to the Met confronted expenses.

“The Met is a sufferer of a global felony group, at the moment beneath ongoing investigation in a number of jurisdictions,” a spokesperson for the museum instructed Hyperallergic in an electronic mail. “All through this investigation, the Met has been absolutely cooperative, and can proceed to be so. The Museum’s workers had been deceived by this felony conspiracy.”

The Met spokesperson instructed Hyperallergic that for the reason that incident, the museum has up to date its assortment administration coverage to require extra rigorous vetting of provenance, together with contact with supply nations.  

The Louvre Museum and the Paris prosecutor’s workplace haven’t but responded to Hyperallergic’s quick request for remark.

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