After the horrors, Cambodia looks to reclaim its heritage

16 Oct 2012 10:26 AM | Anonymous
After the horrors, Cambodia looks to reclaim its heritage

As the tumultuous past recedes, government and cultural bodies have become
active in trying to retrieve Khmer statues and artefacts, which may have been
looted during political upheavals in the early 1970s and routed through Bangkok

Published: 14/10/2012 at 02:06 AM Newspaper section: Spectrum

For decades, thousands of Khmer antiquities have been sold on the international
art market and through major auction houses in London, New York and elsewhere,
bought up by leading museums and wealthy collectors. A large portion of these
artefacts came with little or no ownership history, meaning they could well have
been looted from temple complexes by thieves during the country's years of
political turmoil, with Cambodia powerless to stem the trade or repatriate any
of the items.

This year, however, things have begun to change. Currently under litigation in
New York is a 10th-century statue that Sotheby's auction house had been
preparing to put up for sale with a catalogue estimate of US$2-3 million (60-90
million baht). In March, the Cambodian and US governments filed court papers to
seize the statue, which they say was stolen from a site in Koh Ker, Cambodia,
and exported illegally. Sotheby's has countered that the statue could have been
taken at any point during its 1,000 year history and moved for the case to be

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