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Governments to continue artefacts protection

As the legal battle over the Khmer statue held by Sotheby’s New York auction house rages on, Cambodia and the US are working to extend an agreement restricting the import of Cambodian artefacts into the US.

The US State Department announced yesterday that its Cultural Property Advisory Committee will consider the renewal of a 2003 memorandum of understanding intended to “reduce the incentive for pillage of certain categories of irreplaceable archaeological material”.

The agreement still applies only to objects that may have left Cambodia after a 1999 import restriction and so would not limit the import of artefacts like the Duryodhana statue held by Sotheby’s, which was in London by 1975.

Dr Thuy Chanthourn, deputy director of the Institute of Culture and Fine Arts at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said he hoped the upcoming discussions would again widen the agreement’s scope, to include items such as the Duryodhana statue.

The hopes of Cambodian heritage specialists are not the only links between the MoU and Sotheby’s.

Jane Levine, a member of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee reviewing the MoU, is also senior vice president and worldwide compliance director for Sotheby’s.

Last year, Levine told the New York Times and the Associated Press that Cambodia had not proved whether the Duryodhana was stolen and when it was removed from Cambodia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Justine Drennan at justine.drennan@phnompenhpost.com
 

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