Purchaser Gives Stolen Artifact Back to Museum

A French guesthouse owner in Kep municipality who bought a stolen artifact on the black market has returned it to the National Mu­­seum, museum director Khun Samen said Tuesday.

Nicolas Strauch, owner of Cham­pey Inn, purchased a stele with ancient Khmer and Sanskrit inscriptions that was reportedly stolen over a year ago from Ang­kor Chey district, Kampot prov­ince, Khun Samen said.

Strauch then contacted the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, offering to return the 96 cm by 53 cm stone slab dating from the reign of the Angkorian King Yaso­varman I (889-910 AD), said Khun Samen, who asked that the purchase price not be revealed.

He said that the ministry would issue a “letter of appreciation” to Strauch in recognition of his act.

Strauch reportedly bought the artifact on Jan 26 and returned it the next day.

Khun Samen said the return of artifacts was increasingly common because members of the pub­lic “want their names to ap­pear on the list” kept by the ministry of those who have helped re­cover artifacts. People also understand the value of culture now, he said.

Strauch was in Bangkok on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment, according to a family acquaintance.


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