Earlier this week, news broke that former Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez was being questioned by French authorities as part of an ongoing investigation into an alleged antiquities trafficking ring.
Now, Martinez, who oversaw the Paris museum between 2013 and 2021, was officially charged on Wednesday night in relation to the investigation on the grounds of “complicity of gang fraud and laundering,” according to a report by the Art Newspaper, which cited “an official legal source.” He had been detained on Monday and interviewed by the French Central Bureau for Combatting Trafficking of Cultural Property over the course of three days.
As ARTnews reported yesterday, Martinez’s detainment and questioning were done in connection with a larger ongoing investigation into antiquities that had been sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Louvre Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
In his role as director of the Louvre, Martinez, who departed the institution last year after an unsuccessful campaign to have his contract renewed, cochaired the committee that approved acquisitions for the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which has licensed the Louvre’s name through 2037 as part of a joint agreement between the French and U.A.E. governments.
Martinez’s “complicity” charges stem from allegations that he had not thoroughly heeded concerns raised by Marc Gabolde, an Egyptologist at the University of Montpellier.
Gabolde’s concerns centered around the 1933 exportation of an Egyptian stele that was ultimately acquired by the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Martinez has previously denied wrongdoing but declined to comment after he was charged. The Louvre has declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.