In March 2013, the Barbier-Mueller collection of pre-Columbian art was auctioned at Sotheby’s Paris. This event ended with the sale of half of the works offered and generated a confrontation between six of the countries of origin of the artifacts, which were absolutely opposed to the sale, and the Sothebys’ Parisian branch. This article, taking the case described above as a reference, intends to analyze the ethical considerations and lawfulness implied in the buying and selling of cultural property at auction. With this purpose in mind, the arguments held by both parties in this disagreement are analyzed. At the same time, the efficacy of national laws, international conventions, and regulations is considered, mainly with reference to the use of principles and ethical codes that seem to be applied when the law has no jurisdiction.