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Controversial French sale of tribal masks to go ahead

Published on Dec 9, 2013 6:35 PM

PARIS (AFP) - A Paris auction of sacred objects from the Hopi and San Carlos Apache Native American tribes will go ahead on Monday despite objections from the United States and activists, auctioneers EVE said.

The US embassy had asked Paris to suspend the sale of the colourful ceremonial masks, head-dresses and other objects after the failure on Friday of a legal challenge by advocacy group Survival International on behalf of Arizona's Hopi tribe.

In a letter to the EVE auction house, the US embassy said it had asked for the suspension so that the two tribes "might have the opportunity to identify the objects, investigate their provenance and determine whether they have a claim to recover the items under the 1970 Unesco Convention on the Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, to which France is a signatory, or under other laws".

The convention aims to fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property across the world.

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