The Koh Ker Warrior that was to be auctioned by Sotheby’s was once again in the news last week when US officials moved to seize the statue from the auction house, alleging that Sotheby’s knew that the statue was looted. A court appeal has ruled a stay on the seizure, but the arguments will be heard again before a judge on Thursday.
Officials Are Set to Seize Antiquity
New York Times, 04 April 2012
AFP, via Channel NewsAsia, 05 April 2012
Sotheby’s sued for return of 10th century Cambodian statue
The Telegraph, 05 April 2012
Sotheby’s Retains Custody of Cambodian Statue
The New York Times, 05 April 2012
Ruling against the immediate seizure of a 1,000-year-old Cambodian statue the United States and Cambodian governments say was looted from its temple site, a federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday gave Sotheby’s continued custody of the antiquity and called a conference on the case for April 12.
The judge, George B. Daniels, signed a restraining order directing Sotheby’s not to dispose of the sandstone statue, which the auction house had planned to sell for an unidentified Belgian client for up to $3 million last year, and to make it available for inspection by the Department of Homeland Security, which had sought its forfeiture as stolen property.
Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, filed a civil complaint on Wednesday against Sotheby’s, alleging that the auction house knew that the statue had been stolen when it offered it for auction on March 24, 2011.
The government then planned to impound the sculpture this week for return to Cambodia.
But Sotheby’s on Thursday asked Judge Daniels to bar the government from seizing the relic. A lawyer for Sotheby’s, Peter G. Neiman, said in court papers that the company’s bid to sell the antiquity on behalf of its owner was legal under its interpretation of American and Cambodian cultural property laws.
Full story here, see also links at the top of the post.