Golden Boy goes home – but where is home, exactly?

When, last December, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced its plan to deaccession 16 Angkorian sculptures, Cambodians and Cambodia watchers were overjoyed, although not altogether surprised. In its press release, the Met said that the pieces were ‘known by the Museum to be associated with the dealer Douglas Latchford’.

Some form of action had been anticipated for some time and certainly since August 2022 when the New York Times had published a report outlining the country’s claims to more than a dozen artefacts in Gallery 249, and citing as compelling evidence the recollections of looters and emails handed over by Latchford’s daughter after the death of the disgraced art dealer in 2020.

There was, however, one startling aspect of the Met’s announcement: a gilded-bronze statue listed on its website as a ‘Standing Shiva (?)’, once described as Cambodian until recently, would be going to Thailand instead.

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