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Sotheby’s Takes Action Against Cambodian Property Claim

United States Attorney’s office is seeking forfeiture of a 10th-century Cambodian statute consigned to Sotheby’s for auction by Mrs. Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa of Belgium.  Auction house intended to sell the work in March 2012, but the lot was pulled from the sale following Cambodian complaint regarding its provenance. The sandstone statue valued between $2 and $3 million was impounded from Sotheby’s by the US Department of Homeland Security agents in April. It filed a complaint on behalf of Cambodia, as the rightful owner of the antiquity based on French colonial laws from the early 1900s.

On June 5, 2012, the auction house filed court papers to defeat the Government’s actions challenging arguments that the statute was stolen and remained stolen when imported into the United States. Pursuant to Belgian law, bona fide purchasers gains ownership rights after six years of ownership and the statue was purchased by the consignor and her late husband in 1975.

Source: New York Times.