The Met Will Return 16 Ancient Treasures Tied to Looting

The Metropolitan Museum of Art said Friday that it had agreed to return 16 major Khmer era artworks to Cambodia and Thailand. The works are associated with Douglas A.J. Latchford, a Met donor and prolific dealer who was indicted as an illegal trafficker of ancient artifacts shortly before his death in 2020.

In recent years, the Met has come under pressure from the Cambodian government, which said dozens of items in the museum’s collections had been taken from the country illicitly from the 1970s onward during Cambodia’s decades of civil war and violent turmoil.

Among the artworks being handed back — 14 to Cambodia and two to Thailand — are important pieces that the museum has described as being among the finest surviving examples of sculptures from the Angkor period. Some of them are still on view at the Met, and will remain on view, the museum said, before their eventual return to the countries of origin. The museum said the wall text is being adjusted to note the objects’ repatriation.

Their return comes as the Met announced earlier this year new efforts to review all of its collections and policies with a view toward returning objects it determines to have problematic histories. The museum has faced years of scrutiny over the extent to which its holdings include looted artifacts.

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