Saturday, December 4

Cambodia Celebrates Return of Ancient Khmer Sculptures from Douglas Latchford’s Collection | Cambodia

Cambodian officials have celebrated the return of five important ancient Khmer sculptures from Douglas Latchford’s collection, among the more than 100 that his daughter Julia promised to return after his death last year.

Latchford, a businessman living between the UK and Thailand, was a world expert on Khmer antiquities and a prolific collector, but in 2019 he was indicted in the United States on smuggling and document falsification charges. He died in 2020 before coming to trial.

Latchford came under scrutiny in 2011 after US authorities took legal action to stop the Sotheby’s sale of a 10th-century Cambodian sandstone sculpture, the Duryodhana bondissant, valued in the millions, which was allegedly stolen from Prasat Chen, a temple in the 10th-century Khmer capital, Koh Ker.

More questions arose when New York merchant Nancy Wiener was charged in 2016 with possession of stolen property. Two of the artifacts were obtained from Latchford. Thursday Wiener pleaded guilty on charges of conspiracy and possession of stolen property in connection with artifacts allegedly looted from India and Southeast Asia. Some of the items were sold to galleries in Australia and, in some cases, have been returned to their home country.

Julia Latchford, also known as Nawapan Kriangsak, told the New York Times in January: “Despite what people say or accuse against Douglas, my father started his collection in a very different time, and his world has changed… I wish that everything Douglas collected would remain where people from all over the world. world can enjoy it and understand it. . There is no better place than Cambodia, where people venerate these objects not only for their art or their history, but for their religious significance. “

Bradley Gordon, the lawyer representing the Cambodian Ministry of Culture, said on Wednesday: “We signed the agreement with Julia Latchford on September 29, 2020. Exactly one year later, these five masterpieces have returned to Cambodia.”

The five sculptures returned last week could soon join the rest of Latchford’s collection, and the Cambodian government is expected to request their physical return soon.

The National Gallery of Australia is also working towards the return of a major Cham sculpture after discovering its ties to Latchford.

The NGA confirmed Wednesday that it was awaiting a final investigation into the exact origin of a Cham bronze trio bought by the gallery for $ 1.5 million in 2011. An announcement is expected within weeks.

The director of the NGA at the time, Ron Radford, described the 50cm tall bronze Padmapani and two smaller assistants as “perhaps the most extraordinary work acquired this year.”

But the NGA has since confirmed that it has ties to Douglas Latchford and that its provenance is incomplete, raising serious questions about whether it was looted before being sold through dealers in the art market.

“These works are the subject of significant live investigation that is nearing completion,” said a gallery spokesperson.

Pandora Articles, a collection of millions of documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, have returned to focus global attention on Latchford.

Newspapers have revealed new details of how used offshore trusts to transfer your assetsincluding his collection of Khmer artifacts, your daughter and prevent them from becoming subject to UK inheritance tax.

The Skanda Trust was created in 2011 and the Siva Trust in 2012 in Jersey, and Julia Latchford was among the beneficiaries.

Julia Latchford, 50, said she was not personally subject to any investigation and had not been involved in the sale of antiques while they were part of the Skanda and Shiva trust structure. During the time that the “inheritance trust structure maintained the collection of Cambodian artifacts,” which she said ended in 2016, her father had given her a “credible” guarantee that the accusations against her were false, she said.

She said she was also reassured by Douglas Latchford’s associations with the Cambodian government and museums around the world, but later realized that “in general and particular cases, he lied to me and hid certain actions from me.”

Julia Latchford acknowledged that authorities continue to investigate her father’s estate, which she inherited, for the proceeds of crime, but emphasized that her father had made a substantial amount of money regardless of his antiques trade and that not all of his was alleged trading in antiquities had been illegal.

She said: “I am aware of and voluntarily cooperating with authorities in investigations regarding my father’s inheritance and any proceeds of crime and I am committed to their resolution.”

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