Cleveland Museum of Art Says Cambodia Statue Was Not Looted

Hanuman (921-945), Cambodia, Koh Ker. Photo: courtesy the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) has concluded that an ancient artifact in their collection was not looted from Cambodia, despite claims from that country’s officials, reports the New York Times. The statue features a kneeling figure named Hanuman, who has the head of a monkey.

Curator Sonya Rhie Quintanilla visited Prasat Chen, the heavily looted jungle temple roughly 75 miles northeast of Angkor Wat where many suspected the sculpture had originated, earlier this year. She brought with her a mold of the statue’s base to compare it to areas on the site where statues have clearly been removed.

“It was determined that there was no physical evidence to confirm it was from Prasat Chen,” museum spokesperson Elizabeth Bolander announced in a statement. “The museum’s provenance research on the Hanuman is ongoing, and there is nothing further to add at this time.”

Cambodian officials have yet to comment on the news, except to mention that there were no government officials present during Quintanilla’s examination of Prasat Chen. The 10th-century Khmer temple is just one building in a sprawling complex called Koh Ker.

Prasat Chen was heavily looted during Cambodia’s civil war in the 1970s. Five stolen artifacts from the site have been returned from the US to Cambodia since the beginning of 2013.

This is not the first piece of good news from the CMA this week. On Tuesday the institution, which is in the midst of completing an eight-year, $350 million expansion and renovation project, announced that it was hiring William Griswold, leader of New York’s Morgan Library and Museum, as its new director. Both Griswold’s appointment and the statue’s legitimized origins should go a long way in quashing the lingering controversy that surrounded former director David Franklin’s abrupt, scandal-ridden resignation last fall.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics