Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Manhattan US Attorney Seeks Forfeiture of Cambodian Statue at Sotheby's

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York today filed a civil complaint to forfeit an ancient Khmer temple statue, known as the Duryodhana, and in the hands of Sotheby's auction house in Manhattan.  A press release issued by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated the following:

"The Duryodhana is believed to have been looted from Prasat Chen during periods of extreme unrest in Cambodia during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1975, a private collector in Belgium purchased the Duryodhana from an auction house in the United Kingdom. Under the laws of French Indochina and Cambodia, the Duryodhana has been the legal property of Cambodia since at least 1900, if not earlier."

Sotheby's in New York
Credit: Jim Henderson
"The statue remained in the possession of the private collector and his/her heirs until March 2010 when Sotheby’s entered into a consignment agreement to sell the statue at auction in the United States. In April 2010, Sotheby’s imported the Duryodhana into the United States and made arrangements to sell the statue, despite knowing that it was stolen from Koh Ker. In March 2011, immediately before the planned auction of the Duryodhana, the Cambodian Government asked Sotheby’s to pull the statue from auction. Sotheby’s withdrew the statue from the auction, but it remains in their possession."