US may enforce tight scrutiny of antiques after seizure of allegedly looted artefacts from Combodia

Following the charges of felony and smuggling levelled by US department of justice on the a professional art dealer Douglas Latchford, the museums and private collectors are getting more alert and set on vetting the provenance of the art pieces stringently. According to a report in The New York Times many artefacts are still under custody, including the recent 10th-century sandstone sculpture of Shiva and Uma worth $350,000 which was seized by Homeland Security investigators from a San Francisco auction house.

The federal indictment held Latchford, now aged 88 and living in Thailand, to smuggle looted artefacts out of Cambodia and sell them to museums and collectors in the West, using made-up provenances and faked documentation to hide the objects’ history. The frauds were unraveled firstly in 2011, when Cambodia claimed that a 10th-century stone statue of the Khmer warrior Duryodhana, which was due to be sold at Sotheby’s New York, had been looted from a temple complex in Koh Ker.

Museums in the west display Many works connected to Latchford. The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth has a seventh-century sculpture from the Pre-Angkor period of the Hindu deity Harihara which is currently on view in its West Gallery. He has supplied antiquities to major auction houses, art dealers and museums around the world, including in the United States while always remained in denial of all the charges of fraudary and smuggling.The recent indictment remarks, “In order to conceal the fact that antiquities were the product of looting, unauthorised excavation and illicit smuggling, Latchford allegedly created false provenance for the antiquities he was selling and falsified invoices and related shipping documents to avoid any restrictions to the objects export from Cambodia.”

Though the crime is yet to be ascertained but the it put the questions on the process of scrutiny and assurance of authenticity of antiques displayed in the state museums and private auction houses. hence It is vitally important that the truth comes out with regard to the seized artefacts under suspicion.

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