(CTN News) – According to the Met, 16 antiquities will be returned to Cambodia and Thailand. Decades of civil strife and turmoil in those nations plundered the masterpieces, most of which were sculptures.
Among the artifacts found at the Koh Ker archaeological site are a sandstone goddess statue from the eleventh century and a massive stone head of the Buddha from the seventh century.
As part of an ongoing investigation by the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office and Homeland Security, thirteen of the artwork have been returned to Cambodia.
Two additional period works should be returned to Thailand, and one work should be returned to Cambodia, according to the Met’s independent determination.
The investigation discovered that the works had been “shamelessly stolen” by Douglas A. J. Latchford, an art dealer, collector, and scholar.
Latchford was indicted in 2019 for “running a vast antiquities trafficking network out of Southeast Asia,” according to United States Attorney Damien Williams. Special agent Erin Keegan of Homeland Security made the statement. Even though he had denied any involvement in smuggling, Latchford died the year after.
According to Met officials, adding more personnel to their team of provenance researchers is a result of an assessment of collecting processes.
“We are dedicated to pursuing partnerships and collaborations with Cambodia and Thailand that will advance the world’s understanding and appreciation of Khmer art, and we look forward to embarking on this new chapter together,” stated Max Hollein, chief executive officer of the Met.
The museum will keep 10 artworks on display until they are returned; however, the wall texts next to them will indicate that they are being returned.