A bunch of Cambodian artifacts donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork by a disgraced British antiquities vendor are looted, Cambodian authorities officers stated.
The allegations had been first reported by the New York Times, which quoted Cambodian officers saying that a few of these objects had been looted beginning within the ’80s. A number of of the 13 artifacts in query had been donated to the museum by Douglas A. Latchford, who was charged in 2019 with promoting artifacts with falsified provenance. Cambodia believes these artifacts must be reviewed by the Met with the purpose of repatriation.
Final 12 months, officers from the museum met with federal prosecutors in New York after a number of shops printed investigations into the Pandora Papers, a leaked tranche of paperwork about offshore tax havens. These paperwork embrace details about Latchford, who died in 2020, and his enterprise.
The Met says it has lengthy returned looted artifacts in its assortment to their international locations of origin, and that info has been shared with Cambodian officers when artifact provenances have been up to date.
However Cambodian officers informed the Occasions that paperwork uncovered on Latchford’s pc could comprise details about the Met’s vetting course of for the artifacts. Included within the documentation, Cambodian officers have stated, are particulars concerning Latchford’s skilled connection to Martin Lerner, the Met’s former Asian Artwork curator, who reportedly labored with the vendor to acquire among the artifacts which will have been looted.
Lerner informed the Occasions, “Understanding what I do know now, I ought to in all probability not have labored so carefully with Mr. Latchford.”
Quite a lot of artifacts that handed by way of Latchford’s fingers are starting to make their method again to Cambodia. In February, after a three-year-long negotiation interval, Latchford’s daughter repatriated his $50 million assortment of Khmer antiquities, that are suspected to comprise looted and smuggled works. Final 12 months, a gaggle of practically 30 artifacts, lots of them with Cambodian origins, that collector and tech mogul James H. Clark acquired from Latchford had been slated to be returned after Clark was approached by investigators.
Phoeurng Sackona, Cambodia’s minister of tradition and superb arts, informed the Occasions in an announcement that the federal government has requested info and analysis from the Met in regards to the disputed artifacts. A consultant for the Met informed the Occasions in an announcement that the museum has already shared provenance information with Cambodian officers and is in “shut dialogue” about developments of their analysis.
A Met spokesperson didn’t instantly reply to ARTnews request for extra remark.