Surprisingly little has been written about this black market art affair in Mexico, but it’s an intriguing story.
The widow of an American antiquities collector has returned 8,100 black-market artifacts to the Mexican government. Her dentist husband started collecting them in the 1930s, nearly all purchased illegally. But Marco Antonio Santos, head of the Xochicalco archaeological zone, said that the objects had been reduced to simply art and no longer had historical significance because archaeologists did not know from where they came. Some had even been “crudely glued with dentistry material.”
The Leoff-Vinot collection is considered to be the most important and grand private collection ever donated to Mexican museuems, and a small victory in Mexico’s war against looters who raid its numerous archaeological sites.
The pieces — made of jade, gold, silver, bone and more from pre-Hispanic cultures across the nation — are being prepared for cataloging and research.
Photos via AFP