Australia has returned two 3, 000-year-old pre-Hispanic wooden statues from the Olmec civilisation to the Mexican authorities.

Mexico says the artefacts were taken illegally from a good Olmec archaeological site in far eastern Mexico.

They were grabbed from controversial Costa Rican artwork collector Leonardo Patterson in the southern part of Germany in 2008.

In 2015, a court dominated that they belonged to Mexico and on Wednesday they were handed to the Mexican ambassador.

Global hunt

The figurines had been kept in the Bavarian Condition Archaeological Collection after they were grabbed from Mr Patterson in Munich in 2008.

These were part of a collection of more than 1, 500 Aztec, Maya and Olmec artefacts which has been at the centre of an worldwide art hunt for decades.

When Mr Patterson exhibited the particular collection in northern Spain within 1997, experts suggested that a few of the pieces were fake and a study ensued.

Mr Patterson put the collection into storage vacation, where the artefacts stayed until 08.

Spain meanwhile discovered that he was not the rightful proprietor and offered to return the artefacts to the countries of origin that could prove a rightful claim.

In 2008, Spain seized numerous the items and returned them to Peru .

But Mister Patterson moved the remains from the collection to Munich, where these were seized by police later that will year.

‘Important precedent’

Mr Patterson has always maintained that he obtained his collection legally from a number of other collectors.

“All of that stuff, I got it within Europe. I don’t traffic items, ” he said at the time the particular artefacts were taken by Munich law enforcement.

But the courtroom in Munich heard from a see who said that Mr Patterson informed him that he had acquired both pieces from an art dealer, which in turn had got them from the tomb raider.

The court ruled that he could hardly prove legal ownership of the 2 pieces, which were kept in the Bavarian State Archaeological Collection while the situation and an appeal by Mister Patterson were under way.

At a ceremony in the museum, Marí a Villareal associated with Mexico’s National Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH) said their particular return set “an important preceding in favour of Mexico”.

“Mexico argued that it is the owner of these items under Mexican legislation and we could prove that ownership in the municipal case in Germany, ” the lady said.

Mister Patterson was found guilty within 2015 of dealing in fakes plus possessing looted artefacts. His phrase was house arrest due to the fact he or she was in his mid-seventies.