Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Douglas Latchford and the Denver Art Museum

Denver, Colorado, just the place you'd think of when trying to find a home for some spare Khmer objects you have on your hands, isn't it? No matter that there is no real documentation for most of them, Denver apparently will take them without too many questions being asked. That's the gist of the latest post from the "Chasing Aphrodite" bloggers. They list five antiquities - three of them gifts of Douglas Latchford in 2000, 2005 and 2005, and two sold by him in 2000 and 2004 - one of which was in a US collection prior to that (so how did it end up in Mr Latchford's hands? Is Mr Latchford to be considered a collector or dealer?).
In short, in recent years the Denver Art Museum has acquired several Cambodian antiquities with little or no documented ownership history — much less evidence of legal exportation — from [Douglas Latchford]. For several of those objects, the only documented history was a book written by Latchford himself. The museum’s position is further complicated by the fact that Emma Bunker is listed as research consultant for the museum, suggesting a possible conflict of interest. All of these are serious red flags. In a statement, a spokeswoman for the museum said [...] The statement suggests a deep misunderstanding of modern acquisition ethics. The moral obligation on museums [is] to obtain clear provenance — concrete evidence that an antiquity had not been recently looted [...]
Chasing Aphrodite blog, 'Douglas Latchford’s Footprints: Suspect Khmer Antiquities At the Denver Art Museum',  .

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