In 2017, Douglas Latchford was under pressure. Once feted by the Cambodian government and acclaimed as an international authority on south-east Asian antiquities, the Thai-based collector was now the subject of an investigation in the US for allegedly smuggling artefacts on a grand scale.
With his reputation under scrutiny, Latchford continued to discuss the sale and exchange of antiquities with dealers around the world, including a little-known gallery based in Sydney. He was ultimately indicted by the New York district attorney in 2019 on charges of smuggling and falsification of records, but died in August 2020 before going to trial.
Now the hunt is on by US and Cambodian authorities to find, investigate and, if possible, repatriate hundreds of items Latchford sold, often via dealers, to collectors and major galleries, including the National Gallery of Australia.
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