Processes begin to stop Mexican heritage auction in Germany

In another attempt to stop the auction of Mexican cultural heritage abroad, the Secretariats of Foreign Relations and Culture; as well as the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have sent letters to Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger, a German company that will put 67 lots on sale with pieces from pre-Hispanic cultures that occupied the current Mexican territory, on September 21.

The Mexican ambassador to Germany, Francisco Quiroga, sent a letter to Francisca Barnheim, owner of Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger, in which he regretted auction number 366, as “With this type of commercialization actions, the historical and cultural heritage of Mexico is taken out of context, nullifies the value of the cosmogony of the civilizations that created them and prevents the socialization of the historical knowledge that they contribute.”


In the letter dated September 9, the ambassador indicated that the pieces that are usually put on the market “may come from illegal acts and involve black market networks, which make it possible to present it to potential clients. Since 1934, Mexican legislation prohibits the exit of national archaeological assets. When a piece abroad does not have export certificates, it is understood that it is an object stolen and illegally stolen from Mexico. “

He added that after an expert opinion, INAH determined that 61% of the total auction market price “is for recently manufactured parts.”.

For its part, the Ministry of Culture reported in a statement that the corresponding complaint was filed with the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) and that its owner, Alejandra Frausto, also sent a letter to Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger in which he communicated that the INAH “made an opinion on archeology by means of which 74 archaeological pieces were identified in the auction catalog that are property of the Mexican nation, in accordance with the Federal Law on Monuments and Archaeological, Artistic and Historical Zones “and therefore, the sale of these pieces constitutes “a crime”.

Furthermore, “in accordance with the provisions of the Convention on the measures to be adopted to prohibit and prevent the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property of 1970, as well as the Law of 1934, which since then provides for the prohibition of export of this type of pieces, a law that, in 1940, was reformed with the creation of the INAH “, said the Ministry of Culture.

Ambassador Francisco Quiroga’s letter to Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger’s owner, Francisca Barnheim, was sent on September 9. A day later, Frausto sent the request to Quiroga, in which he asked him to send the letter that as Secretary of Culture he prepared for the auction house.

The 67 lots they contain pieces from the Olmec, Mayan, Tlatilco, Chontal, Teotihuacan and Aztec cultures; as well as areas of the current territory of Michoacán, Veracruz, Colima and Jalisco.

The lowest starting prices for pieces of Mesoamerican origin are 100 euros; however, the most expensive piece is the lot 45, with a price of output of 100 thousand euros (2 million 347 thousand 96 pesos, according to the current exchange rate).

Lot 45 is a Olmec mask that would have been made between 1500 and 600 BC. The object apparently represents the face of a dignitary, measures 20.2cm x 17.1cm x 10cm and weighs 1.95 kg.

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  • INAH
  • Auctions
  • Cultural heritage
  • Germany
  • Secretary of Culture
  • Secretary of Foreign Relations

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