CambodiaSoutheast Asia

United States to return 27 stolen antiquities to Cambodia

The United States is returning 27 stolen antiquities to Cambodia. The antiquities, which include Buddhist and Hindu statues from the Angkorian era, are valued at around USD$3.8 million.

It’s unclear where the statues were found, or when they were smuggled to the US, but reports say investigators in New York spent years working to recover the antiquities. Operations from Manhattan’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit and Homeland Security Investigations have recovered around 400 items that are being returned to 10 countries.

The Manhattan district attorney held a handover ceremony with the Cambodian ambassador on Wednesday. But it’s unclear when the antiquities will be shipped to Cambodia.

In a statement to the media, the Manhattan district attorney said…

The repatriation of these 27 stunning relics to the people of Cambodia restores an important link between the nation’s classical Angkor era and its modern customs and beliefs that, for far too long, was disrupted by the greed of stolen antiquities traffickers.

Recently, the US returned 2 lintels that were smuggled out of Thailand during the Vietnam War and then sold to European merchants. The 1,000 year old lintels, which are the top beams of a doorway, were carved from sandstone. They ended up in the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco in the late 1960s.

SOURCES: Reuters | Phomn Penh Post.

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Tanutam Thawan

Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.


  1. Stealing stuff from poor people and then returning it later doesn´t make you a hero. Unfortunately, this wasn´t uncommon it seems. Probably a lot of stuff was stolen from Vietnam and Laos too through those years
    The Imperial palace in Hue that is modeled after the one in China was almost destroyed by aerial bombing during the retaking of the city in 68
    I saw a documentary that showed the invasion of Cambodia (Vietnam On The Frontlines) I at the beginning of 70 and as they advanced conquering towns inside Cambodia, and killing lots of civilians along the way, the soldiers stopped in a village named snuol and begun stealing everything on the local abandoned stores.

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