Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
The Denver Art Museum will return four stolen ancient artifacts to Cambodia following revelations in the leaked Pandora Papers that exposed the offshore transactions of indicted antiquities dealer Douglas Latchford.
Published earlier this month by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the Pandora Papers uncovered 11.9 million documents that expose the offshore dealings and hidden assets of wealthy individuals ranging from world leaders to celebrities and business leaders. The leaked documents include offshore trusts that belonged to Latchford, a British antiquities dealer who was charged with trafficking in stolen and looted Cambodian objects by the US Justice Department in 2019. According to the indictment, Latchford used false export licenses, false invoices, and false letters of provenance provided by a “false collector.” The alleged trafficker died last year before his trial and the case was subsequently dismissed.
An investigation by the Washington Post, published on October 5, tracked 27 antiquities sold by Latchford to major art institutions, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and London’s British Museum.
The Post reported that the Denver Art Museum removed the four artifacts from its collection after receiving a letter requesting comment from the ICIJ on October 9. The museum’s decision to return the items was first reported by the Colorado Sun.
In an email to Hyperallergic, the museum said it contacted officials in Cambodia to “gather additional information about the four pieces from that country” immediately after Latchford’s indictment in 2019.
“The museum has been in conversation with both the US and Cambodian governments regarding those objects and their return since that time,” a spokesperson for the museum wrote. “As part of the process, the four Cambodian works associated with Latchford were deaccessioned from the museum’s collection in September, and the museum is now working with the government to return the pieces to Cambodia.”
The looted artifacts include sandstone statues and bronze busts from the Khmer Empire, which flourished from the 9th century to the 15th century. One of the pieces is a sandstone Prajnaparamita, the goddess of transcendent wisdom, which was acquired by the museum in 2000. A now-archived webpage for the statue (recovered by the Post using the Wayback Machine) says it was “purchased in honor of Emma C. Bunker,” an antiquities scholar who co-authored three books with Latchford.
The museum told Hyperallergic that it is also conducting research related to the two objects from Thailand that had been acquired from Latchford: an 18th or 19th-century cabinet and a Neolithic vessel.
The blog Chasing Aphrodite warned about the looted Cambodian artifacts in Denver Art Museum’s collection back in 2012.
“In short, in recent years the Denver Art Museum has acquired several Cambodian antiquities with little or no documented ownership history — much less evidence of legal exportation — from a man now at the center of a federal looting probe,” the blog post said. “For several of those objects, the only documented history was a book written by Latchford himself.”
As the Denver museum prepares to return the looted Cambodian pieces to their country of origin, the Metropolitan Museum told Hyperallergic it is currently “reviewing the pieces” that came to its collection via Latchford and his associates.
“As we continue our research, we will engage with the government of Cambodia as needed, as we have had a strong and productive partnership with their cultural leaders in the past,” the museum added.
The art world has paid attention to other artists from the same era, but we have not done the same with Sonia Gechtoff, and it is time that we did.
Wifredo Lam developed a style that dances between figuration and abstraction, but the selected compositions at Pace gallery tend to repeat.
These multimedia works debuting on Voice include a “Death Mechanism” and allow fans to collect the artist’s origin story, told specifically for the metaverse.
These four artists dig into the cultural and geologic history of the enclave of Staten Island to produce work that resonates with the core of bell hooks’s commendation to love.
As acceptance of digital art grows, there is also a need to validate quality and recognize artists who explore radical ideas and achieve creative breakthroughs.
On December 13, learn about the Sam Fox School’s graduate programs in Visual Art and Illustration & Visual Culture, as well as the university’s competitive financial aid packages.
Anthology Film Archives’ complete retrospective of the influential Canadian experimental filmmaker includes many exceptionally rare titles.
Breuer’s Bohemia is centered around the life and work of Marcel Breuer, but touches upon an entire cohort of Modernist influencers.
Located in a historic industrial manufacturing facility in Utica, New York, this sculpture-centric program is accepting applications through January 15, 2022.
A conversation with Richard Kraft about his artist book in which he created penalty flags for nearly 10,000 of Trump’s misdeeds
The guidelines are specifically meant to combat a form of online harassment known as doxing.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very New York art events this month.