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Ancient Thai Artifacts Returned by American Collector

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via Khaosod English, 02 August 2018: The ceramics returned were from Ban Chiang. Thailand previously repatriated Ban Chiang ceramics from the Bowers Museum in 2014, and is still looking at 14 more artifacts housed in the Honolulu Museum of art.

Prehistoric artifacts dating back thousands of years to some of the earliest people in Southeast Asia have been returned to Thailand by an American collector, officials announced Thursday.

Source: Ancient Thai Artifacts Returned by American Collector
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US antiquities dealers jailed for tax fraud involving Southeast Asian loot

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This story is related to the repatriation of Ban Chiang artefacts to Thailand early this year. The antiquities dealer who was involved in the sale of the artefacts was sentenced to prison for an elaborate tax fraud scheme. Part of the sentencing agreement is the return of artefacts to their country of origin, including Thailand and Cambodia.

Calling Indiana Jones: Looted artifacts, tax scheme send ex-antiquities dealer to prison
My News LA, 14 December 2015

Operation Antiquity: Prison for Antiquities Dealer Behind Looting and Tax Fraud Scheme
Chasing Aphrodite, 15 December 2015

An ex-antiquities dealer who ran a complex Los Angeles-based tax fraud scheme involving looted artifacts was sentenced Monday to a year and a half in federal prison for making false declarations in customs documents in order to bring stolen archeological resources into the United States.

Jonathan Markell, 70, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson to 18 months behind bars followed by a year of supervised release.

An undercover federal agent and an expert in Southeast Asian antiquities both testified about the extent of the smuggling scheme, which, according to prosecutors, duped Bowers Museum in Santa Ana and other institutions.

Also Monday, Markell and his 68-year-old wife, Cari — who operated the now-defunct Silk Roads Gallery in the 100 block of North La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles for 10 years — were sentenced to probation for operating a related tax evasion scheme in which the couple “packaged” and sold smuggled artifacts to give clients tax write-offs when the items were donated to local museums.

A $1,500 “package” typically included antiquities from Ban Chiang, Thailand, along with false sales invoices to reflect an earlier sales date, and a fraudulently inflated $5,000 appraisal that contained a bogus expert’s signature, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Johns.

Full stories here and here.

Repatriated Ban Chiang artefacts exhibited in Bangkok

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Classic Ban Chiang Pottery

Recently-repatriated artefacts from the United States are on display at the National Museum in Bangkok. They were returned from the Bowers Museum in California last year after being determined that they came from looted contexts. A total of 554 pieces were returned, and an opening ceremony yesterday started off the exhibition that will carry on for the rest of the month.

The Ban Chiang exhibition at the Bangkok National Museum

The Ban Chiang exhibition at the Bangkok National Museum

Moulds and crucibles for bronze metalworking

Moulds and crucibles for bronze metalworking

Bronze artefacts, spear points and bracelets, some with the bones still inside.

Bronze artefacts, spear points and bracelets, some with the bones still inside. These appear to be similar to ones repatriated to Cambodia.

Beads

Beads

Possible paddle beaters with incised markings for creating patterns

Possible paddle beaters with incised markings for creating patterns

For this kids, a DIY rock art station!

For this kids, a DIY rock art station!

Classic Ban Chiang Pottery

Classic Ban Chiang Pottery

The Thai Minister for Culture, Director-General of the Fine Arts Department and a member from the US Embassy inspects the exhibition.

The Thai Minister for Culture, Director-General of the Fine Arts Department and a member from the US Embassy (?) inspects the exhibition.

The exhibition is on at the National Museum in Bangkok until 1 March 2015.

Ban Chiang artefacts return to Thailand

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Return of Ban Chiang artefacts from the US. Source: The Nation, 20141120

Last week, over 500 artefacts from Thailand were officially handed back to the country from the Bowers Museum in the US. The artefacts were mostly from Ban Chiang, and the looted properties included bronzes and painted pots.

Return of Ban Chiang artefacts from the US. Source: The Nation, 20141120

Return of Ban Chiang artefacts from the US. Source: The Nation, 20141120

US Returns Looted Ancient Artifacts to Thailand
Voice of America, 19 November 2014

US returns more than 500 looted antiquities
Bangkok Post, 20 November 2014

Thai crusade pays off as looted treasures return from US museum
The Nation, 20 November 2014

US hands over 554 ancient artefacts to Thailand
National News Bureau of Thailand, 20 November 2014

U.S. returns stolen ancient artifacts to Thailand
PBS, 23 November 2014
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Ban Chiang artefacts return to Thailand

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Bang Chiang Pots returned to Thailand. Source: Bangkok Post 20140902

Over 500 pieces of ceramics, believed to be looted from the Ban Chiang archaeological site in Thailand have been returned to by the Bowers Museum in California.

Bang Chiang Pots returned to Thailand. Source: Bangkok Post 20140902

Bang Chiang Pots returned to Thailand. Source: Bangkok Post 20140902

‘Ban Chiang’ artefacts arrive from US
Bangkok Post, 02 September 2014

Thailand reclaims smuggled artefacts from California museum
The Hindu, 02 September 2014
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Museum director indicted looted antiquities scandal

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This news is going to raise some eyebrows. Roxanna Brown, the director of the Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum in Thailand and a noted authority on Southeast Asian ceramics has been indicted in the recent case of looted artefacts from Southeast Asia.

Director of Thailand museum indicted in US probe into smuggled antiquities
The Star, 13 May 2008

Asian antiquities expert arrested
OC Register, 12 May 2008
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Ban Chiang case unsettles museums in US

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The repercussions from the smuggled Ban Chiang artifacts case in California have got museums around the US keeping a close watch. Especially since under US law, all the Ban Chiang material currently in the collections of US museums might be considered stolen property because of a 1961 Thai law.

Thai Antiquities, Resting Uneasily
New York Times, 17 February 2008
This feature is scheduled to be published in the US on Feb 17, but has been online since yesterday

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