Angkor Archaeological treasure threatened
Looting and Vandalism


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In Cambodia, the Khmer temples are one of the noblest wealth of country.
For years, this heritage is the prey skilled negotiators, in contact with strange and wealthy collectors via Thailand, and Singapore,
For how long ?
L ooting and vandalism,
On the road to Angkor Wat, the heads of fifty-four geniuses in the eleventh century stone disappeared: some stolen, replaced by other vulgar copies to prevent further looting.

T he danger facing the worst is probably the temples looting. The parts are stolen or torn rather hastily, before the border to smuggle in thailand lead most often in antique shops in Bangkok where they are bought by foreign collectors.
This scourge is not new. But looting started really worrying proportions in recent years.

The Conservation d'Angkor in 1970 were nearly a thousand employees. By lack of money, it has less than one hundred today. The most valuable pieces were transferred to the National Museum in Phnom Penh are stored or the filing of Conservation.

The temples are not the only target of looters, deposits of the conservation of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap were attacked several times by armed men.

Statue volée In December 1995, a head of Brahma, who was part of an English private collection, has been restored to the government cambodien.

This is when it goes on sale at Sotheby's in London, the play was a recognized head of the tenth century Shiva, who is currently in the Metropolitan New York. She was torn from his chest, which is still in collections conservation.

Discussions are underway and work is expected in January 1997.

This statue from Angkor Wat was found on sale in a Bangkok galarie Art.

Return to Cambodia Khmer statues of two millennia

Trois ans après sa saisie avant une vente aux enchères à New York, en mars 2011, le «Duryodhana bondissant», statue khmère du Xe siècle, va être restituée au Cambodge.
Second return, this time by a California museum after several months of discussions, "Bhima", a statue bought in 1976. Since 2009, several looted antiquities were returned to Cambodia by the United States.

Duryodhana leaping, Warrior sandstone with a height of 1m58 and 110kg, should have been sold at auction in New York, March 24, 2011. But at the request of the Cambodian authorities via Unesco, this sale was stopped and the sealing statue.

Its return was obtained by the New York court, after a civil complaint filed in April 2012 on behalf of Cambodia against Sotheby's. The auction house had estimated the statue millennium between 2 and 3 million ($ 1.5 million to EUR 2.2 million).

Considered by experts as a masterpiece of Khmer art, Duryodhana had been stolen from the site of Koh Ker in 1972 in Northern Cambodia and sold at auction for the first time in London in 1975.
"After nearly two years of litigation, we are pleased to announce that the sellers have agreed to return to where it belongs, in the Kingdom of Cambodia," said New York, May 7, 2014, the Manhattan District Attorney Preet Baharara in the presence of Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister.
According to him, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, has agreed to return to Cambodia Khmer another statue, Bhima, the opponent Duryodhana whose transfer is scheduled for June 2014 The two leading figures of Khmer art belong to a group of nine monumental statues in the round, and could reach their home countries at the same time.

A "domino effect" This is not the first time that works of art are returned by museums and institutions in Cambodia. "We reaffirmed our commitment and that Manhattan does not become a mecca for antiques and works of art stolen," said M.Bharara, speaking of a "domino" effect, after the proceeding in 2012.

In May 2013, the Metropolitan Museum (Met) in New York announced the return to Cambodia of two Pandawa, sculptures on display for 20 years in its Asian wing. Their return, June 11, 2013 in Cambodia, was hailed as a "historic event" by the kingdom. These figures were also stolen from Koh Ker in the early 70s, when the country was plunged into civil war.

Sales blocked in 2009 In 2009, another group of nine statues, Balarama, had been identified and "blocked" at an auction organized by Christie's in New York. Since then, Eric Bourdonneau, lecturer at the French School of the Far East (EFEO), responsible for the preservation and restoration of the site of Koh Ker, the Internet continues to stalk the masterpieces looted. According to this archaeologist, peeling historical catalogs auctions and those museum collections, several figures from Kho Ker are still held today by American museums in Cleveland, or Denver, and private collectors.

We owe to M.Bourdonneau, both Duryodhana and Bhima of refunds he calls "exceptional pieces, masterpieces absolutely unique." The Deputy Prime Minister Sok An cambogien said that his country intended to "celebrate" the return of these two thousand statues. They will be exhibited, he has said, the National Museum in Phnom Penh, in a setting "recreating" the Koh Ker site, located some 80 km from the temples of Angkor.

Also an opportunity for two generations of Cambodians will finally be able to see A beacon of the final battle of Mahabharata, great Indian epic that inspired the Khmer mythology.

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