Officials in New York have returned another 30 Khmer cultural artifacts to Cambodia, years after they were looted from the country and illegally sold on the international art market. On Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York hosted a repatriation ceremony for the works – the latest artifacts to be recovered as a result of an ongoing U.S. investigation into the activities of the late British antiquities trader Douglas Latchford.
“These statues and artifacts, which range in age from the Bronze Age to the 12th century, are of extraordinary cultural value to the Cambodian people and we are delighted to be sending them home today,” prosecutor Damian Williams said during a press conference.
The artifacts include a 10th-century sandstone sculpture depicting the Hindu war deity Skanda, and a three-ton sculpture of the Hindu elephant god Ganesha that was listed on the “Ten Most Wanted Antiquities” list maintained by the Antiquities Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based organization working to stop the looting and trafficking of cultural heritage. (The Ganesha statue was previously in the private collection of the U.S. tech billionaire James H. Clark, who handed it over to the U.S. government after its provenance was made known.) Both were stolen from the ancient Khmer capital Koh Ker, in Preah Vihear province, during the turmoil of the Cambodian civil war in the 1990s.