The family of the late billionaire and art collector George Lindemann recently returned to Cambodia 33 antiquities that were looted from religious and archaeological sites.
The items were collected by Lindemann over several decades, with several coming from Koh Ker, the ancient capital of the Khmer kingdom, as well as the Angkor Wat temple complex.
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Lindemann died in 2018 at the age of 82. According to the New York Times, Cambodian investigators said the oil and gas executive is believed to have paid at least $20 million for the 33 items. The repatriation took also place nearly three years after US federal investigators began looking into the collection at the request of the Cambodian government.
According to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office from the Southern District of New York, Lindemann’s family voluntarily agreed to the repatriation. The items were returned to Cambodia in a ceremony on September 11.
The collection of items includes a “monumental” statue of Dhrishtadyumna, a 10th-century sculpture depicting Ardhanarishvara (half-male, half-female deity), a 10th-century Anantashayana Vishnu (reclining Vishnu with Lakshmi), six heads of devas (angels) and Asuras (demons) removed from the gates to Angkor Thom, and a kneeling figure from the 10th-century temple Banteay Srei.
US Attorney Damian Williams called the agreement between the family and his office “historic,” citing the decades of looting and art trafficking that Cambodia has suffered, as well as the US-Cambodia Cultural Property Agreement renewed on August 30. “We thank the Lindemann family for their cooperation and assistance in the repatriation of the antiquities to Cambodia,” he wrote.
The recent repatriation from the Lindemann family is part of a long-term effort by Cambodian officials to identify and recover looted items held by private collectors and major institutions, many of them sold by the late, disgraced art dealer Douglas Latchford. These include 70 relics from royalty, three bronze sculptures at the National Gallery of Australia, 35 items from the collection of Netscape founder James H. Clark, and items in the collection of the Denver Art Museum donated by former museum trustee Emma C. Bunker.
In 2019 Latchford was indicted in the Southern District of New York on wire fraud, conspiracy, and other charges related to his multiyear practice of selling looted Cambodian antiquities on the international art market. The indictment was dismissed following Latchford’s death in August 2020.