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While the French collection may have been assembled prior to that time, Mexico has had laws prohibiting the export of such artifacts since at least 1827.

Photos of the artifacts on the Sotheby's site show two seated depictions of godlike figures carved in stone that appear to come from Mexican pre-Hispanic cultures. The description says the collection contains Aztec, Mayan and Tarascan pieces.

A French diplomatic official said that nothing in the collection up for auction is on the French database checked by the Central Office of Cultural Property. Nor are any of the items in the Interpol database or on the “red list” of the International Council of Museums for cultural property of Central America and Mexico .

The diplomatic official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be named, said these objects have often been shown publicly and mentioned in various catalogues since September.

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Associated Press Writers Greg Keller and Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed to this report