Statues from Nigeria have changed hands in an auction in Paris in spite of protests, with Christie’s auction house defending the sale as legitimate.
All the objects had been exhibited, had been the subject of publications in previous years and had previously been sold publicly at an international trade fair in 2010, French media quoted a spokesman for the auction house as saying on Tuesday.
The Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments wrote a letter of protest to Christie’s after hearing about the auction in Paris on Monday.
The agency believes that the statuettes were acquired illegally during the country’s 1967-70 civil war.
The director of the state museum of Benin City is said to have protested against the auction.
The controversial objects are a pair of Igbo statuettes estimated at 250,000-350,000 euros (280,000-394,000 dollars), which auctioned for 212,500 euros, and an Urhobo figure valued at 600,000-900,000 euros, which did not find a buyer.