The former head of the Louvre faces charges linked to alleged antiquities smuggling

PARIS — The former president of the Louvre museum has received preliminary charges for alleged antiquities trafficking during his tenure as head of the famous Paris museum.

Police in the French capital charged Jean-Luc Martinez on Wednesday with “complicity in organized fraud” and money laundering, according to the Paris prosecutors’ office.

The prosecutor’s office said that two of Martinez’ former colleagues in the Louvre’s Egyptian antiquities department were also taken into custody this week but released without charges.

The Paris prosecutor’s office would not confirm French media reports saying that the three men were suspected of taking part in the trafficking of priceless heritage pieces.

According to Le Canard Enchaine newspaper, investigators were looking into whether Martinez “turned a blind eye” to false certificates of provenance for five Egyptian antiquities.

The newspaper said the pieces including a granite Tutankhamun stele or slab sold in 2016 when the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, a branch of the Paris museum, acquired several Egyptian antiquities for tens of millions of euros (dollars).

Martinez stepped down last year as the Louvre’s president, a post he had held since 2013. He now serves as an ambassador for international cooperation in the field of heritage. The museum’s current president is Laurence de Cars.

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