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A French courtroom on Wednesday charged the previous head of the Louvre museum in Paris with fraud in connection along with his alleged function in trafficking hundreds of thousands of {dollars}’ value of artwork.

Jean-Luc Martinez, who has denied any wrongdoing, stands accused of “complicity in fraud” and “false facilitation of the ‘origin of property derived from a criminal offense or misdemeanor,’” a French judicial official, commenting on the situation of anonymity as a matter of courtroom coverage, advised The Washington Submit in an e mail.

Martinez allegedly ignored paperwork falsifying the origins of a number of Egyptian antiquities offered for $8.5 million in 2016 to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, in line with the French newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné, which broke the story.

Pandora Papers: World hunt for looted treasures results in offshore trusts

Among the many artifacts in query is a pink granite stele bearing the seal of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen. The tall stone slab features a decree by Tutankhamen guaranteeing the safety of a excessive priest and dates to 1327 B.C.

Martinez ran the Paris Louvre from 2013 till final yr. He now serves because the French Overseas Ministry’s ambassador in command of worldwide cooperation on cultural heritage, a task that features working to forestall artwork trafficking.

French authorities, who opened the case in 2018, detained two specialists together with Martinez. Each have been launched with out expenses, the French judicial official stated.

In March, French officers arrested German Lebanese gallery proprietor Roben Dib, who brokered the offers in query. Dib is a suspect in a number of different circumstances, together with within the sale of a stolen historic Egyptian stele to the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork in New York. The town later returned the stele to Egypt.

French investigators suspect a whole lot of artifacts had been stolen from Egypt and all through the Center East through the upheaval of the 2011 Arab Spring.

After greater than a century, a tearful return for the looted treasures of Abomey

The Louvre Abu Dhabi didn’t reply instantly to requests for remark. A spokesperson for the Louvre in Paris declined to remark.

The 2 museums share a reputation however are separate establishments.

The French state owns the Louvre in Paris, which is the world’s most visited museum. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is owned by the United Arab Emirates, which opened the museum in 2017 beneath a partnership with France.

The deal included the UAE leasing the Louvre title from France for 30 years at a price of some $500 million.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi advised the BBC it couldn’t touch upon the continuing investigation.

“Louvre Abu Dhabi applies a strict worldwide protocol for artworks getting into the gathering, as outlined within the intergovernmental settlement between Abu Dhabi and France, signed in 2007,” the museum advised the BBC in a press release. “This protocol is strictly aligned with the 1970 Unesco Conference [against the illicit trafficking of cultural artifacts] and follows essentially the most stringent requirements of main museums on the planet.”

Rick Noack in Paris contributed to this report.

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