James H. Clark, the founder of Netscape, has relinquished $35 million worth of South Asian antiquities, purchased between 2003 and 2008, from the disgraced dealer Douglas Latchford. According to reports, Latchford assured Clark that the antiquities were exported before the UNESCO 1970 Convention, regulations which made it illegal to trade cultural property. However, emails discovered between Latchford and an unnamed dealer describing works he recently sold to Clark as:
“fresh out of the ground, and needs to be cleaned,”
“they took off most of the mud, or as it was, a sandy soil.”
“hold on to your hat, just been offered this 56 cm Angkor Borei Buddha, just excavated, which looks fantastic. It’s still across the border, but WOW.”
In 2008, when Douglas Latchford could not supply Clark with the proper legal documents for a $30 million sculpture, Clark cut ties with the dealer.
The surrendered works will be returned to their rightful homes; 28 of them to Cambodia, where they may appear in a new wing of the Cambodian National Museum, along with other works smuggled out of the country by Latchford.
***Latchford has since passed away, but his scheme reached far and wide, touching institutions like the Denver Art Museum, the British Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His daughter has agreed to repatriate his $50 million collections of antiquities to Cambodia.