Singer Demi Lovato has been accused of buying "extremely bad fake Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern antiquities" by an art crime professor, after they posted a series of videos of the collection of objects on Instagram.
Lovato, 29, seemed delighted with their purchases, for which they claim to have certificates of authenticity. However, the legitimacy of the artefacts has been called into question by two academics, American art crime specialist Erin L Thompson and British archaeologist Peter Campbell. Both Thompson and Campbell took to Twitter to question the origin of the objects.
"I'm so excited, some really incredible things came in the mail today. These are ancient Egyptian artefacts," Lovato says in in the series of Instagram stories, which have since disappeared from the platform. "These are my certificates of authenticity. Some of these pieces are literally thousands of years old."
Lovato then says that their mind is "blown" looking at the pieces in their possession, which claim to date back to 2,000 BC.
Thompson, who is an associate professor of fraud, forensics, art law and crime at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York City, reposted Lovato's videos on Twitter calling into question the authenticity and origin of the pieces.
"Is now my time to shine on @TMZ for pointing out that Demi Lovato is showing off getting extremely bad fake Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern antiquities on their Instagram stories?" Thompson wrote.
Thompson highlighted that if the objects are not fakes, it is possible they could have been "looted from Iraq ... to support insurgent groups like ISIS".
Highlighting an excerpt of the video in which Lovato shows the alleged certificate of authenticity for cuneiform tablets, Thompson wrote: "These are not so much 'cuneiform tablets' as 'pre-gnawed dog biscuits'."
Campbell also reposted Lovato's video, writing: "OK folks, Demi Lovato posted a series of ancient artefacts that they bought online.
"It is not illegal to own old things. The legal antiquities trade is valued [at more than] $2 billion annually. However, there is a significant trade in illicit antiquities which draws on looted materials from Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Italy, etc. And within that is a trade in fakes and forgeries."
Campbell explains that "any post-1970 trafficking of cultural heritage is illegal" and that the date is "earlier for nations like Egypt with protective laws". He adds that "anyone buying antiquities should therefore conduct due diligence before they purchase an object, [as] you don't want to buy something that has been looted recently, or a fake."
Of the alleged certificates of authenticity, Campbell wrote: "I have never seen provenance like this. None of the critical information is included. Were these exported in 1869 or last year? Where are the copies of the export permits? Who owned them previously?"
Lovato is yet to comment on the origin of their collection of objects.