Valuable pre-Columbian pieces were auctioned in France, despite protests from the Colombian government

A person looks at Mark Rothko’s “No. 7”, part of The Macklowe Collection, at Sotheby’s on November 5, 2021 in New York City. – After more than a year, in-person auctions are returning to New York this week with the sale of the exceptional Macklowe collection, reputed to be the most expensive in the world to come onto the market — and buyers are champing at the bit after the pandemic.
At renowned auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s, the message is the same: the art market is doing very well.
With fall sales estimated to bring in more than $1 billion in a week, starting on November 15, “this is our largest sale season that we’ve presented since 2015,” a record year, said Brooke Lampley, president of the fine arts department at Sotheby’s. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION – TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION

This Wednesday night, the auction house Christie’s held an event that sold pre-Columbian pieces and raised more than 3.062 million euros or 3.5 million dollars. This space had been rejected by Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Honduras and Colombia.

Among the pieces were Mayan vessels, Aztec figures and different utensils for daily use, as well as a Mayan ax from the Pacific coast that cost 692 thousand euros. The Christie’s subsidiary in Paris auctioned 72 sculptures and statuettes from the Mayan and Olmec cultures despite the fact that Mexico claimed that these objects were national treasures and part of its cultural heritage. Another 15 items failed to sell.

The arguments against the five Latin American countries were based on the fact that these types of exchanges motivated illicit trafficking and organized crime. “As custodians of art we have a duty to carefully investigate the objects that we handle and sell,” Christie’s explained, adding that sellers had to guarantee and verify that these objects legally belonged to them.

The region said they were aware that the restitution of the pieces depends on the private owner and that this limits the capacity for action.

The Ministry of Foreign Relations of Mexico indicated that most of the objects in the auction reached the market in illicit acts and that “this type of actions violates the culture, not only of the peoples to which they belonged, but against the knowledge of the history of humanity and its cultures ”.

A few weeks ago, the Colombian artist Fernando Botero almost doubled the sales estimate for one of his paintings, after his work ‘Woman with Guitar’ was sold at an auction held in Paris for one million dollars. This is one of the most valuable paintings in the collection Art on edge from the auction house.

This was reported by the EFE news agency, which added that the canvas painted by Botero in 1988 had an estimated sale of between $ 550,000 and $ 750,000, but finally managed to far exceed that figure. The final price was 920 thousand euros, which exceeds one million dollars.

The work shows a woman with voluptuous gray hair, traditional in the style of the Colombian artist, who poses nude on a pink Elizabethan sofa and holds in her hands a round guitar that has a tiny mouth or rosette.

The oil on canvas painting measures 183 centimeters high and 130 centimeters long, which show much of Botero’s style. It belonged to a collection of a Parisian woman with a passion for modern and post-war artists, according to a statement issued by the agency.

This exceptional grouping reflects a woman’s passion for contemporary and postwar art, representing some of the greatest international figures of the 20th century. Seminal pieces by Fernando Botero, Chu Teh-Chun, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Barbara Kruger, Louise Nevelson and Manolo Valdés, among many others, will be offered, ”the auction house said about the collection.

The group of works showed, according to the company, a strong appetite for French artists such as Philippe Cognée, Olivier Debré, Gérard Garouste, Gilles Aillaud, Richard Texier y Maurice Estève, which contained a rare quality and a portrait of the woman who created the collection. “An impulsive and capricious woman, driven by an insatiable curiosity for contemporary creation and a sure taste for daring works of art,” noted auction house Christie’s.


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