Fake Mayan relic sold at auction for $4 million

Mayan ruins at Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico, 1998/7/20
Mayan ruins at Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico

(CBS) - Someone in France is very unhappy right now. In a recent Paris auction, a sculpture of a Mayan warrior sold for over $4 million. Too bad the statue was a fake.

The stone figure, sold by a private collector, was said to be an example of Pre-Columbian art and was believe to be a unique work dating from around 550 to 950 A.D. It sold for 2.9 million Euros ($4.1 million) on Monday, according to Reuters.

But experts at the Mexican institute who studied the auction catalog said the stature, along with 66 other pieces, had been made recently and were carved to give an ancient appearance.

"The figure tries to recreate the Pre-Columbian features of the maya region in southeastern Mexico but the height, the posture of the flexed legs and the boot straps are not characteristic of this culture," the institute said in a statement republished by Reuters.

Mexico's Foreign Ministry reportedly alerted the French government about the fraudulent artifacts before the auction, not that that's much comfort to whoever dropped all that money on a piece of stone.