Cambodia believes the Metropolitan Museum of Art stole artifacts in its collection

Cambodian officials say they are certain several of the 13 Cambodian artifacts donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by businessman Douglas AJ Latchford beginning in 1983 were stolen, they said New York Times.

Last July, the Manhattan District Court filed a lawsuit relating to a Cambodian Khmer sandstone sculpture associated with Latchford and in the Met’s collection.

Later that year, Met officials met with members of the US Attorney’s Office to discuss the possibility that Cambodian artifacts in their collection had been stolen.

The Met says it has long been a practice to return looted artifacts from its collection to their countries of origin, and that information has been shared with Cambodian officials when the artifacts’ provenance has been updated.

However, Cambodian officials said so Times that they uncovered documents questioning how thoroughly the Met screened objects before acquiring them; In particular, they point to documents found on Latchford’s computer after his death in 2020, for which Latchford was vouched for by Martin Lerner, the Met’s former curator of Asian art. The Daily Beast reached out to the Met for comment.

“We have not asked the Met to do a onerous task,” Phoeurng Sackona, Cambodia’s culture and fine arts minister, told the Times in an opinion. “Instead, we have only requested the specific information and research that the Met explains to the public and in its policies and procedures that it already has on any cultural property from another country before it is admitted to the museum.”

“Our museum has a long tradition of evaluating cultural property claims and returning objects based on rigorous evidentiary reviews.”

— speaker met

In a statement to The Daily Beast, a Met spokesperson wrote: “The Met is closely monitoring these latest developments and we are in active dialogue with Cambodia. We shared our origins with Cambodia’s representatives; and we have asked that Cambodia share any new relevant information it has recently received. Our museum has a long tradition of evaluating cultural property claims and returning objects based on a rigorous examination of evidence.”

In January, 35 mostly Cambodian items from the collection of Silicon Valley art collector James H. Clark, acquired with help from Latchford, were due to be returned to their countries of origin after the collector concluded this was the case likely stolen after being shown photos of similar traded artifacts by investigators.

Latchford, who was officially charged with illegally smuggling and selling Cambodian artifacts, previously defended his activities in 2013, saying he had traded Cambodian items that would otherwise have been “shot down for target practice”.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/cambodia-believes-the-metropolitan-museum-of-art-has-stolen-artifacts-in-its-collection?source=articles&via=rss Cambodia believes the Metropolitan Museum of Art stole artifacts in its collection

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