Looted artifacts returned to Cambodia in deal between DOJ and family of late billionaire collector

Looted artifacts returned to Cambodia in deal between DOJ and family of late billionaire collector

The family of late billionaire and art collector George Lindemann returned 33 looted artifacts to Cambodia, following an agreement between the family and the U.S. Justice Department.

The return of the artifacts was voluntary, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York stressed that its agreement with Lindemann‘s family did not imply any violation of federal law on their part.

“For decades, Cambodia suffered at the hands of unscrupulous art dealers and looters who trafficked cultural treasures to the American art market. We thank the Lindemann family for their cooperation and assistance in the repatriation of the antiquities to Cambodia,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement on Monday.

In their own statement to The New York Times, the Lindemann family said that “having purchased these items from dealers that we assumed were reputable, we were saddened to learn how they made their way to the market in the United States.”

The art dates to the Khmer Empire between the 10th and 12th centuries. During that era, also known as the Angkor Period, Hinduism was the state faith. The pieces, which reference figures from the Hindu scriptures and epics, came from temple complexes dating to the era, including the brief 10th-century capital of Koh Ker and the more famous complex at Angkor Wat, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

These include a reclining statue of the god Vishnu with consort goddess Lakshmi, the hero Dhrishtadyumna from the Mahabharata epic, and a sculpture depicting Ardhanarishvara, a half-male half-female deity

“It pleases the Cambodian government that the Lindemann family, in possession of these national treasures, knowing they were wrongfully possessed, have duly and voluntarily returned them to their rightful owners,” Cambodian Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona told The Times.