The Paris Auction

published in May 1, 2013

“The Indians are being plucked in Paris!”

posted by Gustavo Barbosa
The most serious complaint below is by the anthropologist, Cecilia Gutel and psychologist Michel Gutel. In it, enter details about an auction held in Paris in December 4, 2012 day, where objects from indigenous tradition and culture are freely on sale in an unfortunate process of commodification of the sacred and intangible values. The competent authorities – FUNAI, IBAMA and the indigenous missionary Council – are already being caused to act.

“The Indians are being plucked in Paris!

Nicolas Hulot and the NGO Planet Amazonia organize an auction to sell traditional indigenous culture, objects and objects made from protected animal species.

Was December 4, 2012 on Tuesday, at rua des Grands-Augustins No. 7, in the 6th District of Paris. It all started by a private evening organized by Nicolas Hulot (Nicolas Hulot Foundation for nature and man), Gert-Peter Bruch (President of the NGO the planet Amazonia), and Alain Casabona (General delegate of the CNEA – National Committee for artistic education). This night was one of the strong moments of the campaign «Amazon» Emergency directed by the Planet Amazonia. Was under the sign of the “respect of the preservation of the environment, the rights of indigenous peoples and more generally human rights that were sold at auction traditional objects of indigenous culture and objects made from protected animal species.

Nova Imagem

Convite para o leilão, frente e verso

On the day of the event, we arrived at the scene just before the start of the auction. The NGO has hired a security service, access to the building is being governed by the presentation of invitations or by the intervention of one of the organizers. Our entry has happened without any problem, as we present the credentials. The night brought together some forty people, all invited or stay the night m. Alain Casabona or by the President of the planet Amazonia m. Gert-Peter Bruch, or even by m. Nicolas Hulot. Master Pierre Cornette de Saint-Cyr leads the event for free, according to the organizers. The environment was relaxed, almost friendly climate: the auctioneer, for example, preferred to call Nicolas Hulot for “my dear Nicolas” and the actress Mélanie Laurent for “my dear”. What made this exceptional evening was, of course, the beauty and rarity of the pieces that were displayed and sold, but also and above all their character profanatório.

Nova Imagem (2)

Profanity: action or result of profanar. 1 disregard or violation of what is holy, sacred; violation, sacrilege, profanity 2: Derivation by extension. irreverent attitude against person or thing which deserves respect; affront, insult, profanity Ex.: p. of tombs of Jews by neo-Nazis 3: Derivation by extension. misuse of something respectable; abuse Ex.: p. Bach music “(Dicionário Houaiss da Língua Portuguesa)

The Organization of this night is not in itself a desecration? The pieces presented to the public as “kayapo crafts” are actually objects of worship and symbols of indigenous culture. Michael Dean recalled showing the different objects that they are “loaded with history”. However, the history of these objects have been used for unusual purposes and with the only goal of the auction. Those responsible for NGO urge the present each object Michael associating it with the image of Mohammed: “they were all manufactured by Raoni. […] When Renee came find François Mitterrand, he led a headdress like this “. […], etc. The best selling points seem to be linked to the prestige and image of Mohammed, but also the sacred dimension of the pieces. So, the parts used by indigenous peoples, in their ceremonies and rituals, or those transmitted by more than one generation, increased the consumerist desires of buyers.

Nova Imagem (3)

How to understand that all these are proposed objects put up for sale by the Indians?! The value of them is invaluable because it exceeds any market value: each piece tells a story, represents a community, a clan or family and symbolizes the individual belonging to this community, this clan or that family. In the words of the Cacique Raoni: “Certain (headdresses) symbolize the family. No one has the right to use them […] Each is personal. They are used during receptions, or parties, or to wage war “. The possession and use of headdresses is not left to chance. These rules are clearly intrinsic to the symbolic and sacred character of these objects. Transgress these rules is to betray the indigenous culture, sell these objects is to deny the identity of them. How to interpret such acts? What would these caciques, and Raoni himself, to give up their beliefs and convictions by selling their sacred objects? The other Indians were consulted?

Nova Imagem (4)

The lack of respect. For the guests-customers, each new object, each new piece exposed, were reasons of dubious comments, coated by a humorous character that, in fact, denote contempt and ignorance towards the Indians, there appear and consenting. The comments ensued provoking laughter: “you have this throws, you’re a boss!”, “but this also serves to pick fruit on Earth (…) It is very peaceful! “. Because these comments were not translated to the Indians? Does the interpreter-translator m. Arkan Simaan was embarrassed with the idea of translating them?

At the end of the auction, there were dozens and dozens of objects including: headdress of the most various sizes, baskets, necklaces, bracelets, belts, among other pieces of different materials, sold during a night placed under the sign of retirement and confidentiality. Certain parts, including a large headdress of ceremony, were separated before the start of the auction to be handed over later to individuals who ignore the identity. The auction total reached approximately 16000 euros. The most important piece of the night was taken by Alain Casabona for 1,800 euros. The French actress Mélanie Laurent invested alone more than 3,000 euros. She would be warmly parabenizada by leaders of NGOs and by his friend Nicolas Hulot. Left the place together, a little before the end of the auction.

Nova Imagem (5)

Some people in the Organization say that the pieces were sold at very low prices. On the other hand we were shocked and outraged at what we saw. What happened that night brings us inevitably to the darkest of hours, during which real organized looting of Western traditional objects. Who may have had the idea of organizing this indigenous soul auction? Who can assign the right to judge what belongs to the sacred or profane allowing these objects to be sold? At any rate, we have seen a surprising inversion of values: the money this above all, objects become profane and the currency was now enshrined. On that Tuesday, December 4, the Indians were plucked, with your consent.

Nova Imagem (6)

In addition to the ethical issue, crucial in our understanding, is the question about the legality of the origin of these parts and the way they were introduced in French territory for its marketing. The fact is that this auction signed up within the framework of the campaign “emergency Amazonia”, that is, on behalf of the defense of biodiversity, against deforestation and for the defence of indigenous peoples. Nevertheless, the IBAMA rigidly regulate the export and trade of indigenous craft parts built with animals whose species are currently protected in the Amazon. This is not the case with most headdresses that were sold? In legal terms, the traffic of this kind of parts is called biopiracy and its authors are liable to penalty for environmental crime. In France, legislation might be different; These objects are considered as works of art, ethnic objects, but that lose their original status to become commercial, aesthetic and cultural objects.

The organisation of the auction is not an invention of the planet Amazonia, in fact this practice already existed with the Association by Virgin forest which once belonged Gert-Peter Bruch, before entering into conflict with its President Jean-Pierre Dutilleux, and create your own association. In a video entitled ‘ RENEE-vente aux biddings d ‘ objets kayapo par L’Association pour la Forêt Vierge ‘ available on the internet, Jean-Pierre Dutilleux explains “that is very difficult to find these things (sic) in France, is only because they are objects used by the Indians that led that they managed to enter the country, but they are prohibited. But how are the usual objects of the Indians, then they took with them. “

“RENEE-vente aux biddings d ‘ objets kayapo par L’Association pour la Forêt Vierge” (video of the auction).

Let’s stop on the idea of objects «usual»: If these objects are only allowed to leave the Brazilian territory in this context: how to justify to customs that the Indians, accompanied by an NGO, take with them dozens and dozens of headdresses, sticks, baskets, necklaces etc and come back without them? It seems that the legal framework that regulates the export of these objects is rather vague to leave room for such arrangements.

On top of that, the video we already signed by Gertonline productions has been placed on the internet on November 26, 2011, i.e. two months after the split between the Gert-Peter Bruch and Jean-Pierre Dutilleux. Here we can ask ourselves: putting this video on the internet, which was the goal in question once the auction principle guard Bruch?

The irony of history is that the Indians were plucked in Paris that Nicolas Hulot and his friends strut and seem to have forgotten the poster of Sitting Bull, although widely circulated on Facebook of the planet Amazonia. On December 6, 2012, i.e. two days after this auction, Nicolas Hulot was appointed special delegate for the preservation of the planet by the President of the Republic François Hollande. This appointment comes exactly one week after the meeting organized at the Elysée with the Kayapo delegation that he accompanied.

Nova Imagem (7)

“The money doesn’t come.”


Had a lot of money at the auction of the day on December 4. The best buyers were applauded, sent congratulations: “congratulations, she deserves it!”; “he is formidable!”.

The audience laughed, each word on the beautiful “exotic objects” that were for sale, and, before leaving, even if he did shoot with the Indians.

Do you remember “my dear Nicolas”?

Cécilia Gutel Michel Gutel

PhD student in anthropology Counselor. “

 Made on the first day of December of 2012 during a public meeting.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: