Met museum to return 16 ancient artifacts to Cambodia and Thailand

Met museum to return 16 ancient artifacts to Cambodia and ThailandMet museum to return 16 ancient artifacts to Cambodia and Thailand
via Robert Bye on Unsplash
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced the return of 16 ancient artifacts to Cambodia and Thailand. 
Returning the stolen artifacts: In a press release, New York City’s Metropolitan Museum noted that 14 artworks linked to Douglas Latchford, a British antiquities dealer and prominent scholar of Khmer art, will be returned to Cambodia, while two others will be repatriated to Thailand.
In coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigation, the museum found that the artifacts were stolen by Latchford, who was indicted for illegal antiquities sales in 2019. Since then, the museum signed an agreement to return the sculptures to Southeast Asia. The Met is actively reassessing its Khmer art collection and plans to exchange information with authorities in Cambodia and Thailand for ongoing research.
“The Met is pleased to enter into this agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and greatly values our open dialogue with Cambodia and Thailand,” said Max Hollein, the Museum’s director and chief executive officer. “We are committed to pursuing partnerships and collaborations with our colleagues there that will advance the world’s understanding and appreciation of Khmer art, and we look forward to embarking on this new chapter together.”
About the artifacts: Most of the artifacts were reportedly looted during civil unrest and war. The repatriated artworks, created during the 9th to 14th centuries in the Angkorian period, represent the Hindu and Buddhist religious systems of that era. Among them are a seventh-century stone head of Buddha and a 10th-century sandstone goddess statue from the Koh Ker archaeological site. 
via U.S. Department of Justice
These works will continue to be displayed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s South Asian art galleries until arrangements are finalized for their return to their countries of origin.
Cambodia welcomes the return: Cambodia’s Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, Phoeurng Sackona, welcomed the announcement. She considers the repatriation of the objects as “an act of healing for our nation”and emphasizes their enormous importance to the Cambodian people. 
“We appreciate this first step in the right direction,” Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts stated, according to Spectrum News. “We look forward to further returns and acknowledgements of the truth regarding our lost national treasures, taken from Cambodia in the time of war and genocide.”
Ongoing investigation: Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams pledged to vigorously investigate the illegal trade in stolen antiquities and urged cultural institutions and individuals to be vigilant. He encourages cooperation and voluntary action to facilitate the return of pieces tied to illicit trafficking to their rightful owners.
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