The Manhattan District Attorney’s office last week returned a stolen vishnu to Cambodia, nearly 30 years after looters removed the sacred figure from a seventh-century temple. The Standing Sandstone Vishnu was smuggled into Manhattan in 1995 under the orders of Doris Wiener, a dealer and well-known antiquities trafficker. The piece was returned during a repatriation ceremony attended by Cambodian Ambassador to the United States Keo Chhea on 2 November.
“This antiquity was callously ripped away from an ancient temple so it could be sold for profit,” District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. said in a press release. “After it was illegally circulating on the art market and in a private collection for years, our Antiquities Trafficking Unit, in collaboration with our law enforcement partners, are finally returning this piece home.”
According to the DA’s office, the Standing Sandstone Vishnu was broken and looted from an Eastern Cambodia temple, and Wiener and an unnamed co-conspirator had the work restored. It was smuggled through Thailand and sold to a private collector in Manhattan.