Experts disagree over antiquity repatriations
23 May, 2015 Bennett Murray and Vandy Muong
Last week Cambodia welcomed home a 10th-century statue of the Hindu god Hanuman. The statue, which had been looted from the Koh Ker temple complex in Siem Reap province during the civil war, was returned following research that established beyond doubt its dubious provenance.
Hanuman’s repatriation was the sixth of its kind to have taken place in Cambodia since 2013. But while the volume of returns may be rising, approval is far from universal. In a multimillion dollar art market where museums and private collectors spend fortunes amassing collections of antiquities, a global debate rages as to which objects ought to be sent back.
“Everyone is trying to figure out what should be on the market and what should not be on the market,” said William Pearlstein, a New York-based lawyer who specialises in art law.