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Former Louvre Director Detained for Alleged Antiquities Trafficking Investigation

Jean-Luc Martinez, former director of the Louvre in Paris, was questioned by French authorities earlier this week to investigate an alleged trafficking ring of antiquities, The Art Newspaper reported.  Jean-Luc Martinez had held the position from 2013 until last year amid varied kinds of accusations and misgivings by those at the helm of the museum.

According to reports, the investigation centres around objects that were sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Louvre Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, which has licensed the Louvre’s name until 2037 as part of a joint agreement between the UAE and France.


In addition to Martinez, “a close source” revealed that Vincent Rondot, the head of the Louvre’s Egyptian department, as well as Olivier Perdu, an Egyptologist who edits the journal Revue d’Egyptologie, were also questioned. Martinez claimed he was not guilty, and the Louvre declined to comment or provide any statement from Rondot.

The fraud involves the possible handiwork of Paris-based dealer Christophe Kunicki who was arrested in 2020 with regards to the sale of a golden sarcophagus to the Met in 2017 for €3.5 million. The museum returned the object to Egypt in 2019 after uncovering the fraud. Authorities are also looking into nine other objects sold by Kunicki and Dib to either the Met or the Louvre Abu Dhabi for a total of some €50 million, reports ART news.


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