Australia to return stolen artefacts to Cambodia

Following the realization that they had been taken without permission, the National Gallery of Australia will be returning three bronze statues to Cambodia. These statues date back to the 9th and 10th centuries.

Both countries have been conducting an investigation into the origin of the artwork in question for the past ten years, and this moment marks the conclusion of that investigation.

The government of Cambodia has expressed their gratitude for the historic move, which they praised as “an important step towards rectifying past injustices.” They also thanked those responsible for it.

This occurs at a time when there is a concerted effort being made on a global scale to recover looted cultural objects.

The ancient kingdom of Champa, which at one point in time covered portions of both Vietnam and Cambodia, was the birthplace of all three of the works of art that are being discussed here.

Although Douglas Latchford, a British antiques smuggler, passed away in 2020, the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) asserts that it bought the sculptures from him in 2011 for a total of A$2.3 million (£1.18 million; $1.5 million).

In 2019, accusations were launched against Mr. Latchford in connection with the suspected trafficking of stolen and plundered Cambodian artifacts. The National Gallery of Art (NGA) claims that Mr. Latchford has been involved in the illegal sale of antiquities since 2016.

According to the media, the three sculptures were discovered in the year 1994 buried in a field in Tboung Khmum, which is situated in the eastern region of Cambodia. Tboung Khmum can be found in the country of Cambodia. After that, it is said that they were smuggled across the border into Thailand where they were later sold to art dealers from other countries.

With order to assist with the retrieval of the artefacts, Mr. Latchford’s daughter, Nawapan Kriangsak, worked together with academics from the National Gallery of Art and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts of Cambodia.

The sculptures will remain on display at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra for the next three years while Cambodia establishes a new home for them in Phnom Penh.

Susan Templeman, Australia’s Special Envoy for the Arts, said the following during a handover ceremony on Friday: “It is an opportunity to put right a historical wrong but also to strengthen our ties and deepen our understanding.”

Cambodia has not ceased making requests to the governments of other nations in an effort to retrieve the thousands of artifacts that it asserts were removed from its ancient temples. This effort is being made in an effort to retrieve the thousands of artifacts that Cambodia alleges were taken from its ancient temples. The nation asserts that some of these objects can be discovered in the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in addition to other locations in the United Kingdom.

This is the second time in recent years that the National Gallery of Art has been required to remove artwork from its collection because it had been stolen.

In the year 2021, the gallery was responsible for returning a number of antiquities, some of which dated back to the 11th century. India received all of these items. These objects were connected to the infamous antiquities trafficker Subhash Kapoor as well as the late art dealer William Wolff from New York.

On a global scale, efforts are currently being put forward in the direction of reuniting culturally significant items with the people who were their original owners.

It was announced in March that four native Australian spears that had been seized by the British explorer Captain James Cook and his landing party in the year 1770 upon their initial arrival in Australia would be returned to the people who had traditionally possessed them. These spears had been taken by Cook and his company as a souvenir from their journey to Australia.

The spears had been kept in storage at Cambridge University for the entirety of the 20-year endeavor that culminated in the successful campaign that led to the return of the spears by the various First Nations groups.

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