New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced plans to return two 10th-century statues from its collection to Cambodia. The decision was made after new research revealed that the artworks had been looted in the late 1970s from the Koh Ker temple complex, an archaeological site in northern Cambodia.
“In returning the statues, the museum is acting to strengthen the good relationship it has long maintained with scholarly institutions and colleagues in Cambodia and to foster and celebrate continued cooperation and dialogue between us,” said Met director Thomas P. Campbell in a press release.
The two statues, each referred to as Kneeling Attendant, were donated to the museum separately and piecemeal: the heads in 1987 and 1989, and the matching torsos in 1992. The figures, reassembled in 1993, have been on display for nearly 20 years. The Met has not yet set a date for their return.
Looted artwork from Koh Ker has made headlines before: Sotheby’s was stopped last year from completing the sale of a 1,000-year-old sandstone sculpture featuring a mythic warrior figure said to have been taken illegally from the temple site. The case is still awaiting trial.