Via NY Times: Prosecutors File Arguments in Effort to Return Cambodian Statue, 8/21/12
Federal prosecutors seeking to repatriate a 10th century statue to Cambodia filed court papers Monday accusing Sotheby’s of knowing the sculpture “was an important piece of cultural property that had been stolen” from a remote temple complex when the auction house put the massive sandstone artifact up for sale in March 2011.
Despite testimony from multiple experts declaring it stolen property, Sotheby’s continues to argue for the right to sell the Cambodian temple statue for as much as $3 million on behalf of its Belgian “owner,” shamelessly arguing that “that no one has provided proof the item was stolen.”
As if the temple monks had a yard sale, but failed to keep receipts?
No, the lack of provenance of this statue is in keeping with what researchers found of the Asian antiquities collected by Norton Simon (Pasadena), Walter C. Mead (Denver), Sherman Lee (Cleveland), Avery Brundage (Asian Art Museum), John D. Rockefeller III (Asia Society NY), and others.
But since those collections were formed before international heritage laws went into effect, they are apparently immune from this kind of scrutiny and repatriation effort.