The Republic of Peru has quietly filed a lawsuit against Yale, officially turning a nearly century-long dispute over the rightful ownership of Inca artifacts into a legal battle, the News has learned.

Peru’s 31-page complaint, accompanied by some 26 exhibits, was lodged in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday by the Washington law firm that has represented Peru since last fall. In that time, Peru and Yale came close to signing an agreement that would have kept the parties out of court by sending some — but not all — of the artifacts excavated by Yale explorer Hiram Bingham III back to Machu Picchu, but ultimately were unable to finalize those plans.

The first page of a 31-page complaint filed against the University on Friday by the Republic of Peru.
The first page of a 31-page complaint filed against the University on Friday by the Republic of Peru.

Instead, according to the complaint, Peru now seeks “the immediate return of all such property as well as damages that it has suffered on account of Yale’s persistent breach of its obligations and profit at the expense of the people of Peru.”

The lawsuit does not come as a complete surprise; officials in Peru have hinted since April that they would sue Yale, and those intentions were reiterated by the country’s Council of Ministers in November, when it approved in principle the filing of a lawsuit.

Peru’s attorney, William Cook, a partner with the Washington law firm DLA Piper, declined to comment about the filing.

University General Counsel Dorothy Robinson said although Peru filed the lawsuit, Yale has yet to be served with papers. Still, echoing statements she made a month ago, Robinson said she had hoped to resolve the disagreement with Peru amicably.

“Clearly it is a case where there is good reason for both sides to reach a creative, constructive resolution,” she said in an e-mail Tuesday. “We will, of course defend the suit.”


  • Anonymous

    The British Museum has managed to keep the Rosetta Stone from Egypt…

  • Anonymous

    yo these fools be trippin

  • citizen of macondo

    I hope Yale wins the dispute. Otherwise, they artifacts are gonna end up in the hands of thiefs and highest bidders down in Macondo. Should Peru win, it will be a treasure for the corrupt to reward themselves handsomely.

    At Yale, they are safe and protected for generations to come.

  • Glenn Gutmacher

    A lot was said about tapping for the secret societies, but when I was at Yale (mid-1980s) the night when the dozen or so a capella singing groups held their tap night was a big deal on campus. And the bonds that these people had often lasted well beyond their campus years.

  • Anonymous

    As Barry Goldwater said of the Panama Canal: "It's ours … we stole it fair and square!"

  • Anonymous

    As both a peruvian and a Yale graduate, I had hoped for an amicable resolution. Yale, however, still sees itself Indiana Jones rescuing for humanity treasures found in Banana Republic. Peru is a sovereign nation with beautiful, safe museums where the pieces belong - not in Peabody's basement.

  • Anonymous

    There is a great difference between the unethical withhold of the Rosetta Stone and the pieces of Machu Picchu. Hiran Bingam signed and agreement with the Peruvian government to return the pieces back to Peru after a few months of study in New Haven. Yale does not want to recognise that agreement and is asking conditions to fulfill its duty. In a few words is the same arrogance and prepotency of their British ancestors but luckily with a document signed that fortunately the National Geographic Society, the co-sponsor of Bingam's expeditions to Machu Picchu, does consider fully legal. Shame on Yale and all those ignorants that think they are the only ones who can take proper care of ancient objects that belong to their original nations!

  • Peruvian

    How is possible?,What a pity! this prestigious University acting like a cheap thief!, they didn't honored the agreement one century ago,Indiana Jones and George Bush arrogance combined!…

  • Anonymous

    George Patsourakos
    The fact that Peru recently filed a lawsuit against Yale University for the return of Inca artifacts, excavated by Yale explorer Hiram Bingham III nearly 100 years ago, indicates the need for a compromise. Is Yale the rightful owner of these artifacts -- or is Peru? I would have to side with Peru, since the artifacts were taken from that country without payment for them. On the other hand, Yale has preserved these artifacts for nearly a century. Moreover, these artifacts probably never would have been found, if it were not for a Yale explorer. A fair compromise for the possession of these artifacts -- and one that would avoid a court settlement -- would be for Yale to return half of the artifacts to Peru, and to keep the other half. This could be accomplished fairly by having a representative from Peru and one from Yale take turns selecting each artifact, with a coin tossup to determine which representative would select first. Now that's a compromise that is a win-win solution -- and a fair one -- to this dilemma for both Yale and Peru!

  • Eli "73

    Yale should defend itself in depth until the cost of litigation outpaces Peru's
    $26.95 GNP.