New Yorkbased Sotheby’s agrees to return 10th century sandstone statue to Cambodia


PHNOM PENH, Dec. 16 — The Cambodian government announced Monday that the New York-based Sotheby’s has agreed to return the 10th century sandstone statue of a Hindu warrior to Cambodia after a two-year legal battle.
“On Dec. 12, the auction house Sotheby’s and a Belgian woman Decia Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa, who had consigned the statue for sale in 2011, agreed to return it to Cambodia within 90 days after the legal case was ended,” Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet Minister Sok An told a news conference.
The ancient statue, valued at more than 2 million U.S. dollars, had been looted from Cambodia’s Koh Ker temple complex in 1972 during the country’s civil war and resurfaced on the front of an auction catalogue in 2011.
The dispute over the statue started since then when the Cambodian government asked Sotheby’s to remove it from sale on the very morning it was to be auctioned in Manhattan.
“On behalf of the Cambodian government, I’d like to extend my gratitude to the United States government for helping Cambodia in this legal dispute between the Cambodian government and Sotheby’s, ” he said.
Sok An said the 500-pound artifact, known as the Duryodhana, would be airlifted to Cambodia within three months and would be housed at the National Museum in Phnom Penh.
Meanwhile, he appealed to other museums and art collectors around the world that are illegally possessing Cambodian artifacts to return those plundered treasures to Cambodia, saying they are invaluable assets for the nation and the people of Cambodia.
In June, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York returned two 10th century stone statues of “Kneeling Attendants” to Cambodia after nearly 20 years on public display in the Met. The two statues were illicitly removed from the same temple at the time of Cambodia’s civil war in the 1970s.[db:内容2]