September 25, 2022

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Cambodian government locates stolen Khmer statues in 'America's Most Beautiful Homes' |  Abroad

Cambodian government locates stolen Khmer statues in ‘America’s Most Beautiful Homes’ | Abroad

Ancient Khmer statues stolen from a sacred site in Cambodia appeared years ago in photos of a San Francisco villa for the US magazine Architectural Digest. Although the relics cannot be seen on AD, experts have confirmed that they were photoshopped from the image. The house is also called ‘the most beautiful house in America’ and is worth 42 million euros. The Cambodian government claims that some of the statues seen in the courtyard match the stolen Khmer statues.

The owners of the lavish property are attorney Sloan Lindman Barnett, daughter of the late billionaire George Lindman and her husband Roger Barnett. In the 2021 cover photos, which can be seen on the “Architectural Digest” website, the statues weren’t there. According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), this photo has been edited. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists found a different version of the image online showing several artifacts on the walls of the courtyard.


Erin Kaplan, a spokeswoman for Architectural Digest, told ICIJ that the magazine published the image without traces due to “unresolved copyrights relating to certain artworks”. Lindemann Barnett and her husband did not respond to ICIJ requests for comment.


A group of stolen antiquities

The Cambodian government is said to be investigating a larger collection of Khmer antiquities belonging to Lindeman Barnett’s parents, which was described in a 2008 article in the “Architectural Digest” as “one of the largest privately owned collections of Southeast Asian art”. Footage from their Palm Beach home showed several Khmer antiquities, reportedly worth more than $40 million, including two that closely resemble those in the 10 largest stolen antiquities in Cambodia.

Bradley Gordon, a US attorney at the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, acknowledged one of the pieces as a depiction of the Hindu god Vishnu. The Cambodian government believes the statue may have been stolen from a temple that may have been the royal tomb of King Jayavarman IV. “It’s one of the most important statues in the temple, and probably in all of Koh Ker,” Gordon told ICIJ. “By having this in their collection, the Lindemanns had in their living room the Cambodian equivalent of a sarcophagus stolen from King Tut’s tomb.”

Thirty stolen Cambodian artifacts have been returned to Cambodia this year.

Thirty stolen Cambodian artifacts have been returned to Cambodia this year. © Reuters

According to the ICIJ, the Cambodian government has so far traced more than 2,000 alleged Khmer artifacts from museums and private collectors around the world. Earlier this month, 30 cultural artifacts with links to British antiquities collector Latchford were returned to Cambodia. Douglas Lachford was already charged with smuggling in 2019, but due to his death in 2020, the case was closed. The Lindemanns have not been charged with any wrongdoing.

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