9 hours ago
When it comes to smuggling of cultural relics and art thieves, who is the first person that comes to your mind? The handsome men and beautiful thieves in films such as “First Time Pirates” and “The Trap of Stealing the Sky”? In all likelihood, the heads of the world‘s top museums, such as Jean-Luc Martinez, the former director of the Louvre in Paris, will not be thought of.
French media reported that he was being investigated by police for his alleged involvement in a Middle East antiquities smuggling case. Martinet denies the allegations. He insisted he had a clear conscience.
French media quoted judicial sources as saying that Martinet was suspected of helping to transfer ancient art and artifacts to the Louvre branch in Abu Dhabi, including an invaluable granite stele with the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutanka on it. Mongolian seal.
The Louvre in Paris has yet to comment, while the Louvre in Abu Dhabi said it could not comment on the specifics of the investigation, which is under judicial proceedings.
However, the Louvre Abu Dhabi explained: “[The museum]strictly follows international agreements when accepting works of art as collections, such as the terms of the intergovernmental agreement signed between Abu Dhabi and France in 2007.”
The agreement complies with UNESCO’s regulations against illicit trafficking in cultural relics and benchmarks against the strictest standards of the world‘s top museums.
Martinet became president of the Louvre in Paris in 2013 and will step down in the summer of 2021.
Since then, he has represented France as ambassador for international cooperation in cultural heritage, with duties including cooperating and assisting in the fight against art smuggling.
French sources told the BBC that the charges against Martinet included “conspiracy to defraud” and “concealment of the origin of illegally obtained works through false endorsements”.
The French satirical publication Le Canard enchaîné reported that the case involved Egyptian artefacts purchased at a huge sum of money by the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, UAE in 2016, including a pink granite slab from about 1327 BC. It is extremely rare that Pharaoh Tutankhamun, engraved as a child, sacrificed to the god Osiris and accepted an offering from a high-ranking official.
Investigators want to determine whether the proof of origin of the five artifacts costing 8 million euros was forged, and whether Martinet “closed his eyes” on it.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a branch of the French Louvre. The relevant investigation was launched in 2018 and may involve a number of cultural relic experts.
Marc Gabolde, a well-known French Egyptian antiquarian, questioned the origin of these artifacts in 2018, but according to the Duck Call, the Louvre has not responded to his questions so far.
Martinet’s lawyers said he refuted the charges against him “in the strongest possible terms” and was confident that his good faith would be affirmed.
There has been a long history of theft and smuggling of cultural relics in the Middle East. In addition to the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, there are also many in the Israeli antiquities market.
In September 2021, Israel returned to Egypt a shipment of smuggled Egyptian artifacts sold in Israel.
The Egyptian government reportedly asked Israel to return the stolen artifacts when its foreign minister visited Cairo as a sign of goodwill and sincerity.