The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Friday, January 27, 2023


U.S. returns 30 looted antiquities to Cambodia
Keo Chhea, the Cambodian ambassador to the United States, speaks at an event that celebrated the return of 30 antiquities to Cambodia, in New York, Aug. 8, 2022. Chhea urged collectors, dealers and museums to intensify their efforts to review whether items they hold might have been stolen by looters. (Jeenah Moon/The New York Times.

by Julia Jacobs and Tom Mashberg



NEW YORK, NY.- American and Cambodian officials urged museums and private collectors Monday to investigate the origins of their Khmer art to determine whether it had been looted, and the officials demonstrated the pervasiveness of such thefts at an event that celebrated the return of 30 antiquities to Cambodia.

Lined up behind the officials were seven masterpieces of the country’s ancient heritage, including a 10th-century sandstone statue known as “Skanda on a Peacock” that investigators say was stolen from a temple by a Khmer Rouge conscript and self-described looter in 1997.

The Cambodian government will also welcome back a 5-foot-tall sculpture of a Hindu god, Ganesha, but the 4-ton sculpture was represented only in a poster Monday for fear that it would break elevators at the Manhattan offices of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Both objects were said to have been plundered from the archaeological site at Koh Ker, capital of the ancient Khmer empire.

The antiquities that are being repatriated, the officials said, were all trafficked by an organized looting network and sold in the Western art market through Douglas A.J. Latchford, a British art dealer and collector of Cambodian antiquities. He died in 2020, less than a year after he had been charged with smuggling looted relics and concealing their tainted histories by falsifying documentation to help sell them.

“It’s like a returning of the souls of our culture back to our peoples,” Keo Chhea, Cambodia’s ambassador to the United States, said at Monday’s news conference.

The relics were returned as part of an investigation into Latchford by federal prosecutors in New York and the Department of Homeland Security. They were seized from two individuals and a U.S. museum that had owned the artifacts. All three cooperated with investigators.

“We commend individuals and institutions who decided to do the right thing,” said Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District, “and after learning about the origin of the antiquities in their possession decided to voluntarily return those pieces to their homeland.”

The owner of “Skanda on a Peacock,” which depicts the Hindu deity Skanda riding the bird, inherited the sculpture from a collector who had purchased it from Latchford in 2000 for $1.5 million, according to court papers. The heir, who has not been publicly identified, agreed to relinquish possession of the artifact to federal authorities.

Twenty-five of the antiquities that are being returned to Cambodia were surrendered by James H. Clark, the internet pioneer and Netscape founder who said he had spent roughly $35 million in purchasing dozens of Cambodian and Southeast Asian antiquities, many of which he used to furnish a Miami Beach penthouse.




“One day I recall walking through my apartment looking at these objects and thinking, ‘They really should be in a museum and not in private hands,’ ” Clark said in a phone interview Monday. “And that’s where they will be.”

Federal officials have said that Latchford duped Clark into believing the artifacts were being legitimately sold and that once they laid out evidence to the contrary, Clark agreed to surrender 35 items, most of which had origins in Cambodia. Those items include the elephant-headed Ganesha, a bronze seated Buddha and a sandstone Buddha.

The 30 artifacts cited Monday are expected to arrive in Cambodia by October, after which the government hopes to have a national celebration around their return, said Bradley J. Gordon, a lawyer representing the country. Government officials intend for the items to ultimately be put on public display, he said.

Four of the antiquities were surrendered by the Denver Art Museum. The museum declined to comment on the ceremony but said it was also currently researching two objects from Thailand that were related to Latchford.

The criminal case against Latchford has been dismissed since his death. When he was alive, Latchford, who had been lauded by the Cambodian government for his scholarship on Khmer art and his contributions to state museums, had argued that Westerners who bought such antiquities and sold or donated them to museums were saving them from potential destruction.

At the ceremony Monday was a delegation of Cambodian officials who have been traveling across the United States for 10 days, visiting museums in California, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York to ask for documentation relating to the Khmer collections at the institutions.

Their efforts are part of a global push to recover hundreds of Khmer and pre-Khmer artifacts that made their way around the world as a result of decades of looting. Their mission has been furthered significantly with the help of a Cambodian man named Toek Tik, the former Khmer Rouge conscript, who has disclosed details of his prolific looting career to authorities as a way to redeem himself for actions he now regrets.

Sopheap Meas, deputy director of antiquities management at the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said that during her travels she had seen many one-of-a-kind objects that she believes should never have left Cambodia.

“The burden of proof should be on the museums to show that they have the right to legally own Cambodia’s national treasures,” she said.

The overarching message of the event, according to officials from both the United States and Cambodia, was that even though these objects were being repatriated, many more with illicit origins remained in the hands of private collectors and museums. Williams encouraged “anyone out there who believes that they have illegally obtained Cambodian or other antiquities in their possession to come forward.”

“We know that this problem goes much further, deeper than the activity of one man,” Chhea said.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.










Today's News

August 9, 2022

Investigators say collector had suspect art and lots of chutzpah

'What a horrible place this would have been'

Roland Auctions NY rounds out summer series of auction with August 13th multi-estates sale

Olivia Newton-John, sweet-voiced pop singer and 'Grease' star, dies at 73

Rescuing art in Ukraine with foam, crates and cries for help

U.S. returns 30 looted antiquities to Cambodia

Eight works by four African American photographers and a photographs by Manuel Álvarez Bravo enter collection

Like bees of the seas, these crustaceans pollinate seaweed

MoMA PS1 opens exhibition on art and public space in New York City

Koestler Arts announces details of its annual UK Exhibition to be curated by Ai Weiwei

Bellmans' August auctions proof that bidders don't take time off during the summer

Gazelli Art House presents the debut solo exhibition of gallery represented artist Khaleb Brooks

Jess T. Dugan joins CLAMP

Cherokee Museum granted land use permit for future collections facility

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp will reopen on 24 September 2022

High scores abound as $384,000 copy of 'Legend of Zelda' drives Heritage's Video Game Auction to $4.46 million

David McCullough, bestselling explorer of America's past, dies at 89

Rakajoo opens his first solo exhibition in China at Danysz Shanghai

RISD Museum opens 'Helina Metaferia We've Been Here Before'

In defense of 'Diana,' the show we didn't deserve

Firetti Contemporary presents a collective exhibition including ten women artists from the UAE

'The Devil Wears Prada' review: An adaptation that needs tailoring

Alexander and Bonin presents an exhibition of works by

At Mostly Mozart concerts, casual vibes and high musical values

A Beginners Guide To Photo Editing

Best Ways to Capture Your Wedding for Long Lasting Memories

10 Things to Consider Before Installing a Garden Fence

Everything You Need To Know About Closure Wigs




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful