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Mexican cultural heritage pieces auctioned by Casa Bertolami Fine Arts gallery.
Mexican cultural heritage pieces auctioned by Casa Bertolami Fine Arts gallery. Photo: Tendencias

Auction of stolen Mexican patrimony canceled in Rome 

On Sunday, Sept. 19, the Mexican government celebrated the cancellation of an event in Rome that was to auction figures of the country's patrimony.

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On Sept. 16, an auction was announced at a Rome gallery where 17 pieces belonging to Mexico's cultural heritage would be put up for sale. After the news, Italian police intervened and canceled the auction. The Mexican government responded with celebrations of the decision on Sunday, Sept. 19. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and the National Institute of Anthropology and History issued a joint statement addressing the problem with an institution like Casa Bertolami Fine Arts putting objects obtained in an illicit manner up for auction.

"The pieces have been submitted for examination as to their illicit provenance in order to, if confirmed, return them to Mexico," the statement said.

According to Alejandra Frausto Guerrero, Mexico's Secretary of Culture, the stoppage "is the fruit of cultural diplomacy; of dialogue and the permanent work of two nations that recognize in their heritage one of their greatest treasures, symbols of their history, of their identity and of the most sacred things that their peoples have." 

Fraustro Guerrero also said they will continue to fight head-on against the trafficking of cultural property and the illicit sale of these pieces.

Roberto Riccardi, head of the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of Italy, confirmed that all the pieces are safeguarded and that they are working on the steps to verify the origin of the pieces and to be able to return them to Mexico.

Among the goods are anthropomorphic figures and clay pots, whose styles and characteristics belong to different Mesoamerican cultures from different periods.

In recent years, the Mexican government has upped its pressure on European countries and the United States to return patrimonial pieces stolen from the country in different contexts. Mexican authorities asserted that they will insist on the restitution of the archaeological and historical pieces that are abroad illegally.

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