Who would have imagined that the ambassador of international cooperation and a member of the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Zones would be suspected of trafficking in antiquities? to me the worldArchaeologist Jean-Luc Martinez, former president of the Louvre, Wednesday evening to “Money Laundering and Collusion in Organized Fraud”. According to an article by Chained duck Published Wednesday, the 58-year-old has been in police custody since Monday along with two of his colleagues, the three police have heard from the Central Office for Combating Trafficking in Cultural Property (OCBC).
If Vincent Rondo, current director of the department of Egyptian antiquities at the Louvre, and Olivier Perdue, an Egyptologist attached to the head of Egyptology at the College de France, came out for free on Tuesday night, Jean-Luc Martinez didn’t come out until Wednesday. in the evening after being accused of money laundering in an organized gang and complicity in fraud in an organized gang. He is suspected of being linked to the smuggling of antiquities that has been going on for years. A scheme that includes Near and Middle Eastern merchandise, sold in particular to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. After his release, Jean-Luc Martinez was placed under judicial supervision. according to tied duck Investigators suspect him “close your eyes” on forged certificates.
At the center of the investigation led by magistrate Jean-Michel Gentile is a pink granite stele, huge, intact, sealed with the royal seal of Tutankhamun, the eleventh pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt. Stele purchased by the Emiratis and the Louvre Abu Dhabi (UAE) in 2016, along with four other works. In 2016, the Louvre Abu Dhabi acquired several Egyptian antiquities, with tens of millions of euros, according to tied duck Including the famous stele. However, in 2018, a preliminary investigation was opened, since then it has been entrusted to the investigating judges, with the aim of determining whether these antiquities, along with dozens of others, were looted, fraudulently removed, and then “washed out” thanks to testimonies forged.
For the judges, the stele’s origin was modified and tampered with by an expert in antiquity named Christoph Konecki and merchant Robin Dib. Who are these two men? Back in 2017. Since that date, the police have followed Christoph Konecki, who then worked at Bergé & Associés auction house. He had attracted attention by selling the golden sarcophagus of the priest Njemmanch, for 3.5 million euros, at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The central part of an exhibition bearing his name finally returned to Egypt in 2019. Supporting documents, the French expert nonetheless noted that the sarcophagus left the country legally in 1971.
But an international investigation by American, French, German and Egyptian teams proved that the work was indeed stolen in 2011 during the uprising against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The forged export licenses were allegedly presented to Konecki by Robin Dib, the merchant and director of the Dionysus Gallery in Hamburg. The latter, in his forties with dual German and Lebanese citizenship, was extradited to France where he was indicted and imprisoned on 14 March. according to the world, The man fed the auctions of Christoph Konecki “from a contract”. Since June 2020, the expert on Mediterranean archeology and her husband, Richard Semper, have been indicted “organized gang scams”, “criminal association”, “organized gang money laundering” And “Forgery and the use of counterfeiting”.
It was Konecki who in 2016 proposed the famous statue of Tutankhamun to the acquisition committee at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, as well as four other works purchased through other committees. 15.2 million euros were subsequently disbursed, and the obelisk and the four pieces were acquired. In March, a German dealer, collector and French gallery owner, and auction house Pierre Bergé was also indicted. They are suspected of laundering looted antiquities in countries destabilized by protest movements in early 2010, after the outbreak of the Arab Spring. The announcement of this investigation has upset the art market and antiques dealers in Paris, one of the world’s strongholds in this sector. It remains to be seen for investigators what role Jean-Luc Martinez may have played in this case.