In contested sale, Christie’s sells pre-Hispanic artifacts

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The Christie’s sign at their corporate headquarters May 3, 2001 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Newsmakers)

PARIS (AP) — Christie’s of Paris said it auctioned off about 30 pre-Hispanic sculptures and other artifacts Tuesday, despite the lodging of a complaint by Mexico with the French government against the sale.

Christie’s of Paris said that the sale exceeded expectations at auction, totaling over €2,500,000 euros ($3 million).

The Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History said it also filed a criminal complaint, arguing it is illegal to export or sell such pieces.

On Tuesday, Christie’s said that “the objects sold in the Quetzalcoatl sale were offered for sale as part of a transparent and legally compliant public sale process… these results reinforce our position that there is strong demand for a legitimate market for Pre-Columbian art.”

The collection included “an impressive” 1,500-year-old stone mask from the ancient city of Teotihuacan, and a “majestic,” equally ancient statue of the fertility goddess Cihuateotl, apparently from the Totonac culture.

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