Thailand Celebrates Return of 11th Century Sculptures Repatriated by the Met Museum

The government of Thailand recently held an official repatriation ceremony for two 11th century sculptures previously held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for three decades and connected to art dealer Douglas Latchford.

The repatriation ceremony at the National Museum in Bangkok on Tuesday was centered around Kneeling Female Figure and Standing Shiva, both of which returned to the country as the result of an agreement between the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the museum.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art officially announced it was returning the two sculptures last December after three decades in its collection.

In 2019, Latchford was indicted for antiquities trafficking for relics looted out of Cambodia and Thailand, a conviction the Met said led to the institution “proactively” contacting the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York as well as officials in the South Asian countries. Latchford died shortly after his conviction in 2020, resulting in the indictment being dismissed.

Kneeling Female Figure and Standing Shiva were also featured in a signing ceremony in April for a formal cultural agreement between the institution and Thailand to study and display Thai art.

According to the AFP, Standing Shiva is also known as “Golden Boy” and the bronze object was discovered near the Cambodian border during an archaeological dig more than 50 years ago. The 51-inch statue was believed to have been smuggled out of the country by Latchford in 1975.

“We are honoured to get these artefacts back, they shall be located in their motherland permanently,” director-general of Thailand’s Fine Arts Department, Phnombootra Chandrachoti, said at the repatriation ceremony.

“However, the effort of returning looted objects doesn’t end here,” Chandrachoti later stated during a news conference. “We aim to get them all back.”

Source: artnews.com

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