Douglas Latchford’s Estate Will Pay $12 Million to Settle a Civil Case on the Disgraced Dealer’s Theft of Cambodian Antiquities

The daughter of the late dealer will also hand over a 7th-century Vietnamese bronze sculpture.

Cambodian deputy Prime Minister Sok An shakes hands with British Khmer art collector Douglas Latchford during a function at the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh on June 12, 2009. Photo by Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP via Getty Images.

The daughter of the late antiquities dealer Douglas A.J. Latchford will forfeit $12 million from his estate to settle a legal complaint against him regarding theft and sale of Cambodian antiquities. She will also hand over a 7th-century Vietnamese bronze sculpture Latchford bought with ill-gotten gains. 

Federal officials announced the settlement on Thursday, reported the New York Times, which says that Justice Department officials will decide later about the disposition of the funds.  

“The late Douglas Latchford was a prolific dealer of stolen antiquities,” Ivan J. Arvelo, a special agent in charge with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, said in a statement announcing the settlement. “His complicity in numerous illicit transactions over several decades garnered him millions of dollars in payments from buyers and dealers in the United States, of which as part of this agreement, $12 million will be rightfully forfeited by his estate.”

The announcement indicates that Latchford provided false provenance records or made false statements on import and shipping records while importing stolen antiquities.

Two objects from Douglas Latchford's collection being repatriated to Cambodia, including, left, a sandstone figure of a seated Ardhanarishvara from the 10th century. Photo by Matthew Hollow, courtesy of the Royal Government of Cambodia.

Two objects from Douglas Latchford’s collection being repatriated to Cambodia, including, left, a sandstone figure of a seated Ardhanarishvara from the 10th century. Photo by Matthew Hollow, courtesy of the Royal Government of Cambodia.

Federal prosecutors in New York indicted Latchford in 2019 on charges of trafficking in looted Cambodian artworks and of falsifying documents. When he died in 2020 before being extradited, he left his daughter, identified in court papers as Julia Copleston, money as well as more than 125 artworks that authorities maintain were looted from Cambodia. 

In 2021, she repatriated his $50 million collection to Cambodia. Later that year, Cambodian government officials were calling on New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to review its collection, requesting a formal review of some 45 “highly significant” objects from the Khmer Empire, and the institution did so. As of August 2022, Cambodian officials still believed that some 33 works looted by Latchford remain at the Met.

The Denver Art Museum previously agreed to return four Cambodian antiquities with links to Latchford, while Netscape creator James H. Clark handed over 35 Southeast Asian antiquities bought from the late dealer to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

 

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