March 18, 2011

Paris Diary: Mexico's Plea for UNESCO to Provide International Leadership on the 1970 Convention for Countries to Work Together to Stop the Trafficking of Illicit Cultural Objects and the Destruction of Archaeological Sites... and Revisiting Paris' Most Celebrated Stolen Art, the Mona Lisa

PARIS - Thursday morning I walked to Les Deux Magots for breakfast before heading to Le Carrousel du Louvre to purchase a 4-day museum pass. Upon arrival at the St. Germain café, I recognized Dr. Jorge Antonio Sánchez Cordero Davila, director of the Mexican Center for Uniform Law, engaged in serious conversation with two distinguished men. After indulging in a Provançal omelette, I passed them again, still talking, but this time I re-introduced myself. Dr. Sánchez-Cordero, an expert on the panels at the two-day UNESCO meeting on the 1970 Convention anniversary, immediately stood as did his companions and after his customary warm greeting and introduction to his companions (in French), then returned to English to emphasize that Mexico had been impassioned in it's plea to UNESCO to establish a leadership role on the 1970 convention. Further posts here will elaborate on his specific intent but one of the points made at the conference by another expert was that UNESCO's staff of one on the 1970 convention could not be effective by itself. Participants had almost all agreed that communication between countries, the ratification of the agreement by another 73 countries (only 120 of 193 signatories have ratified it), and subsequent awareness and training on the ways to implement ways to stop the trafficking and looting of cultural objects would require more than one UNESCO staff member.

While not everyone ignores Veronese's The Wedding at Cana, many people are just waiting to see The Mona Lisa

The crowd in front of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is continuous and slow as so many people want to be photographed with this centuries old celebrity.

Three paintings by Titien are on the other side of the wall of 'La Joconde'
In 1911, a former workman walked out of the Louvre with Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, an artwork that had been owned by France since François I had purchased it after the artist had died at his court. The two-year search for the painting resulted in the fame the painting now has today. Even in March, hordes of visitors cram into one room to view 'La Jaconde' even while paintings by Titien on the other side of the wall and a wall-seize canvas of The Wedding at Cana by Veronese remain relatively ignored.

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