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In 1974, Mexican police after conducting what they thought a thorough investigation into the looting of pre-Columbian ceramics, arrested, prosecuted and sent to jail a man named Brigído Lara. These rare and nationally protected antiquities are highly sought after by collectors and usually bring in record prices at auction houses in New York and Europe. At the trial, many archeologists and other experts testified that the antiquities in question had been stolen from ancient sites.
While in prison, Mr. Lara requested and was brought some clay so that he could prove his innocence and much to the chagrin of the experts that testified against him, and the authorities; Mr. Lara created and produced some of the same items he was accused of looting and smuggling. Brigído Lara was not a looter or smuggler, but was an expert forger that fooled even the experts.
Mr. Lara had begun to create forgeries in the 50’s and 60’s in the Mayan, Aztec and Totonac’s style. He then sold this to many museums andcollectors, including the Morton D. May collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. He was released from prison in 1975. Brigído Lara is now employed by the state Anthropology Museum in Xalapa, where he repairs ancient pieces and reviews the collections of museums for forgeries.