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9 May, 2014

Duryodhana, Stolen Cambodian Sculpture, To Be Returned from U.S.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia–(BUSINESS WIRE)–May 08, 2014 – An ancient Cambodian sculpture, originally from the Koh Ker period (928-942AD), will return to Cambodia later this spring.

The sculpture, known as the Duryodhana, was stolen from Cambodia sometime in the early 1970s. The 225-kilogram statue depicts a Hindu warrior and is valued at around US$2 million. It was re-discovered in the United States in 2011 when the auction house Sotheby’s in New York City was about to re-sell it.

The Cambodian government, working with the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, intervened.

After a lengthy court battle, assisted by Cambodia-based legal services firm Sciaroni & Associates who provided research and expert witness testimony in support of the matter, an agreement was reached with the consignee and Sotheby’s to return the statue to Cambodia.

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister, Sok An, led a delegation to New York City to attend the ceremony commemorating the return of the Duryodhana to Cambodia where he  accepted the repatriation of this historical artifact with significant cultural importance.

“On behalf of the people and the Royal Government of Cambodia led by Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to all the parties concerned for their respective contributions to such a great achievement. Also, our warm congratulations go to all those who, throughout the investigation process and litigation before the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, have ensured the strict enforcement of legislation on illicit trafficking in cultural property. Their professionalism was exemplary and they deserve respect and praise,” Sok An said at the ceremony in New York City.

The Deputy Prime Minister personally thanked the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient, UNESCO, and others who helped in securing the statue’s return.

Initially, the statue will be housed at the Cambodian National Museum.

“The wealth and diversity of Khmer culture, epitomized by the world famous Angkor Wat temple, has captured the imagination of all who have witnessed it first hand. In particular, the sculptures created by the Khmer are some of the major masterpieces of the world, especially those done during the Koh Ker period. Thus, to have played a small part in the return of this historic piece of sculpture to the Cambodian people was a great pleasure for all of our team at Sciaroni & Associates,” said Bretton G. Sciaroni, Senior Partner.

Published articles on the Duryodhana statue include: