via The Art Newspaper, 10 and 12 August 2020: Douglas Latchford, who was indicted by the New York District Attorney for looting and smuggling antiquities from Cambodia, was reported to have died in Bangkok earlier this month.
Douglas Latchford, an expert and dealer in Khmer and Indian antiquities, has died in Bangkok at the age of 89.
His family confirmed to The Art Newspaper today that Latchford died on 2 August. A private funeral has already taken place.
A self-described “adventurer scholar”, Douglas Latchford was born in Mumbai (then Bombay) to British parents. He settled in Thailand in 1951, where he became successful in the pharmaceutical and property businesses, before running body-building competitions. He was himself a large man, who took pleasure in telling journalists visiting his house full of statues of Buddha and Siamese or Burmese gods, how he became interested in South-Eastern art while travelling dirt roads in Thailand and Cambodia to explore ruins and local antiquities’ markets.
But not all agree—scholars have been concerned by the appearance in his books of several antiquities lacking a clear provenance. Latchford name’s appeared in the sale of several works of art from the Khmer capital Koh Ker which US museums like the Metropolitan and the Norton Collection have had to return to Cambodia since 2013. Sotheby’s was also forced to send back to Phnom Penh a statue from Koh Ker reclaimed by Cambodia.
And, last November, a New York District Attorney announced the indictment of Latchford for alleged smuggling and trafficking in stolen and looted Cambodian antiquities. The federal charges, brought by the US Justice Department, outline a decades-long scheme allegedly run by Latchford to smuggle looted artefacts out of Cambodia and sell them to museums and collectors in the West. “In order to conceal that his antiquities were the product of looting and smuggling”, the indictment claims, Latchford allegedly created “false provenances” and “falsified invoices and shipping documents”.