Cambodian delegation in UK to search for stolen treasures

A Cambodian delegation is in London today to investigate whether the United Kingdom is harbouring any cultural treasures stolen from Khmer sacred temples.

Earlier this year Cambodia sent a list of missing artefacts to the British Museum, and Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

The Southeast Asian nation believes a number of precious items were stolen by a British art dealer, Douglas Latchford, during the country’s civil war when it was under the murderous Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 to 1979. Cambodia wants them back.

Cambodian delegation in UK to search for stolen treasures | News by Thaiger

The Victoria & Albert Museum opened its doors to archaeologists and officials from Cambodia today and next week the delegation visits the British Museum hoping to recover antiquities it says were stolen from its temples during years of conflict.

Lawyer Brad Gordon, representing the Cambodian Ministry of Culture, said…

“The challenge for us is that we have been doing our research from a long distance, just looking at what is publicly available on the museums’ websites. For example, we are not able to see the objects from different angles.”

Victoria & Albert Museum announced it welcomes the visit adding they are interested to see if the visit sheds any new light on the objects they have.

Gordon added…

“This was a time of conflict. The whole world knew it. Large museums like the British Museum or the Victoria and Albert shouldn’t have accepted these pieces.”

Earlier this year, Cambodian Culture Minister Phoeurng Sackona appealed to the UK government for help. She said many important cultural treasures had been stolen from sacred temples and “wrongfully ended up” in warehouses and institutions, including London’s two largest museums.

The Cambodians believe the ancient statues hold the souls of their ancestors.

A Cambodian investigation managed to track down former looters and trace shipping and sales records. The investigation revealed that most of the stolen items passed through the hands of Latchford, who died in 2020.

Following Latchford’s death, his daughter, Nawapan Kriangsak, said in 2021 that she would return 125 works from his collection valued at US$50 million. They are expected to feature in the nation’s new museum that will be built in Phnom Penh.

The British Museum is believed to have about 100 Cambodian pieces while Victoria and Albert is home to about 50 items.

Soklida Tek, a researcher with the Cambodian delegation can’t wait to see what the museums are keeping.

“I want to understand why the museums are hiding our ancestors, removed from their homes.”

Cambodian delegation in UK to search for stolen treasures | News by Thaiger


  • Win a 3-night beachfront stay at Four Points by Sheraton Phuket by taking a short Thaiger Survey HERE!

World News

Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.

Related Articles