New York’s Met Museum of Art To Return ‘Looted’ Southeast Asian Artefacts

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The Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York has announced its decision to return some 14 Cambodian and Thai artefacts that are tied to looting.

This action comes on the back of the indictment of the museum’s biggest seller for trafficking stolen antiquities in 2019.

This will further empty the vault of the art collection the museum bought from Douglas Latchford who was charged by the US Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York for selling smuggled Southeast Asian artefacts to distinguished galleries, auction houses and museums in 2019. He was, however, reported to have died in 2020.

Meanwhile, it is unclear when the artefacts will be repatriated after the museum’s statement on Friday, December 15.

In a statement accompanying the restitution journey the Met Museum is embarking on, the Chief Executive Officer for the museum,  Max Hollein, explained that there was a need to return the sculptures to their origin.

“The Met has been diligently working with Cambodia and the US Attorney’s Office for years to resolve questions regarding these works of art, and new information that arose from this process made it clear that we should initiate the return of this group of sculptures,” he said.

Reuters also reports that the artefacts on the repatriation list were made between the 9th and 14th centuries in the Angkorian period, and reflect Hindu and Buddhist religious influences.

The US Attorney’s office stressed that Lastchford was using an organised looting network to traffick stolen art to the international art market.

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