Should Cambodian 'blood antiquities' be returned?

07 Jun 2012 8:07 AM | Anonymous

Should Cambodian 'blood antiquities' be returned?

By Mark V. Vlasic and Tess Davis, Special to CNN
updated 6:57 AM EDT, Thu June 7, 2012
This kneeling figure at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was estimated to have been carved around 921 to 945.
This kneeling figure at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was estimated to have been carved around 921 to 945.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Writers: Met and Sotheby's have ancient figures thought to have been looted in Cambodia
  • U.S. authorities have attempted to seize Sotheby's figures; now Cambodia seeking those at Met
  • Vlasic, Davis say some in art world act the victim because Cambodia wants its art back
  • Writers: Why would anyone want stolen art? Both sides must make reasonable concessions

Editor's note: Mark V. Vlasic, a senior fellow and adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University, served as the first head of operations of the joint United Nations-World Bank Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative and leads the international practice at Madison Law & Strategy Group PLLC. Tess Davis is the executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation and is working with Cambodia to combat the illicit trade in the kingdom's antiquities.

(CNN) -- The last time most New Yorkers focused on pillaged antiquities from Cambodia was likely after the release of the Angelina Jolie film "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," which featured the heroine's adventures through the country's famous archaeological wonder, Angkor Wat.

Now, real "tomb raiding" is making the news as the Cambodian government seeks to recover antiquities allegedly plundered from the kingdom's ancient sites during its civil war, ethnic cleansing and foreign occupation.

At Cambodia's request, the United States recently filed suit in U.S. District Court against Sotheby's in New York, demanding that the auction house forfeit a sandstone warrior that was "illicitly removed," according to the complaint, from a remote jungle temple. But according to a recent New York Times story, Cambodia has now set its sights on another Manhattan institution: the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has specifically targeted the highlight of its Southeast Asian collection: two kneeling figures that archaeologists declare are companions to the contested Sotheby's piece.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/07/opinion/vlasic-davis-cambodia-art/index.html

 

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