Cambodia's stolen warriors

18 Sep 2014 1:19 PM | Anonymous

Cambodia's stolen warriors

A special two-part investigation explores how a famous Cambodian temple statue ended up in a New York auction house.

Last updated: 17 Sep 2014 18:55

When he leafed through Sotheby's auction catalogue last year, archaeologist Simon Warrack could not believe what he saw. With a starting bid of $2m, a life-sized, 500-pound warrior statue dating back to the Cambodian Khmer dynasty was to be auctioned in New York. The catalogue boasted: 'If one could choose only one sculpture to symbolise the glory of Khmer art, this figure could fulfill such a challenge'.

What the catalogue neglects to mention is that the spectacular statue watched over the temples of Koh Ker for more than 1,000 years, before Khmer Rouge looters cut him and his twin brother off their pedestals in the early 1970s. By selling scores of ancient artefacts like these to international art smuggling cartels, the communist group financed their bloody war in Cambodia, which claimed the lives of two million people.

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