Ex-Louvre director faces criminal charges — Analysis

Jean-Luc Martinez allegedly turned a blind eye to “Criminally obtained” Egyptian artifacts

The former director of the Louvre Museum in Paris, Jean-Luc Martinez, has been charged with money laundering and complicity in “organized gang fraud,” which apparently involved the trafficking of archaeological objects taken out of Egypt during the unrest in the early 2010s.

Investigators believe that Martinez turned a blind eye to fake certificates of origin for five “criminally obtained” pieces which ended up in the Louvre’s Abu Dhabi branch, AFP reported, citing sources. Numerous art professionals were involved in the fraud.

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According to The Art Newspaper, Martinez, who headed the Louvre between 2013 and 2021, was detained earlier this week, along with the head of the museum’s Egyptian department, Vincent Rondot, and renowned Egyptologist Olivier Perdu.

Perdu and Rondot both were released later without being charged. Martinez, now ambassador for international cooperation, was taken under judicial surveillance and indicted on Wednesday over the continuing antiquities traficking investigation.

According to Martinez’s lawyers, Martinez denied any wrongdoing.

He has decided to leave his statements until the court and is certain that his good will prevails.” his lawyers, Jacqueline Laffont and François Artuphel, told AFP.

Two years ago, the Louvre Abu Dhabi bought five antique Egyptian artifacts including an extremely rare pink granite stele, Tutankhamun. This purchase cost several millions of euros. The investigation led to three individuals being detained and accused: Richard Semper and Christophe Kunicki, two experts in Mediterranean archeology. Roben Dib is also a Hamburg gallery owner who helped broker the sale. Dib was taken to France and interrogated.

The Paris Louvre is yet to comment on the case, but Louvre Abu Dhabi said that it “The collection must adhere to a stringent international protocol when artworks are entered, which is outlined in an intergovernmental agreement that Abu Dhabi and France signed in 2007.

The protocol follows the 1970 UNESCO Convention. [against the illicit trafficking of cultural artifacts]The museum follows strict standards of the major museums worldwide.” the museum said in a statement, as quoted by the BBC.

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French investigators claim that artifacts confiscated from Egypt during the Arab Spring revolts may have been illegally taken. It is believed that hundreds of artifacts were sold to museums and galleries all over the globe. They did not seem to care much about their origins.

In the beginning of 2010, Arab Spring protests, violence and armed rebellions spread throughout many Arab nations. Many former rulers were overthrown, including President Hosni Murad. Unrest throughout many countries led to civil wars, riots, and international conflict, some of them ongoing in Yemen.

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