Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian statuary among dealer’s stash



Cambodian statuary among dealer’s stash

An 11th-century Baphuon Shiva statue seized from Nancy Wiener, an antiquities dealer who was arrested for allegedly selling stolen artefacts from Cambodia. MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY
An 11th-century Baphuon Shiva statue seized from Nancy Wiener, an antiquities dealer who was arrested for allegedly selling stolen artefacts from Cambodia. MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY

Cambodian statuary among dealer’s stash

At least two of the items discovered in the possession of Nancy Wiener, a prominent antiquities dealer arrested in New York on Wednesday for allegedly selling stolen artefacts from Asia to high-end collectors, hail from Cambodia, according to a complaint filed in the Manhattan Criminal Court.

Wiener, a second-generation art dealer, is being charged with criminal possession of stolen property and conspiracy, crimes that amount to a felony.

“The Defendant utilized her business, Nancy Wiener Gallery, 49 East 74th Street, New York County, to buy, smuggle, launder, and sell millions of dollars’ worth of antiquities stolen from Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, India, Pakistan, and Thailand,” the complaint reads. “Defendant and her co-conspirators have trafficked in illegal antiquities for decades.”

Wiener worked closely with an alleged co-conspirator based in London and Bangkok to purchase and sell an 11th-century Cambodian statue of Baphuon Shiva. The statue was allegedly purchased in 2008, sent to London to be cleared of all markings of looting and sold to Sotheby’s in New York in 2011. The statue stands about 100 centimetres tall and is valued at $578,500, according to the complaint.

In a separate occasion, the co-conspirator sold Wiener a stolen 10th-century bronze statue of Buddha seated on a Naga that is believed to have come from the Khmer empire. Wiener allegedly went to great lengths to hide the provenance of the statue by having it featured in an art book with false information, a common tactic for disguising the origin of stolen artefacts. She then displayed the statue for sale in her gallery with a price tag of $1.5 million.

The US Embassy in Phnom Penh declined to comment on the specifics of the Wiener case, but spokesman David Josar noted that the US has a history of ensuring stolen artefacts are returned to their rightful owners.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants