Cambodia: Returning the gods May 12, 2022

from The Documentary Podcast· ·

While some countries fight to reclaim antiquities that were stolen centuries ago, Cambodian investigators are dealing with far more recent thefts. Many of the country’s prized treasures were taken by looters in the 1980s and 1990s and then sold on to some of the world’s most prestigious museums, including the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert museum, in London. At the centre of many of the sales was a rogue British art dealer. Celia Hatton joins the Cambodian investigative team and gains unprecedented access to looters who have become government witnesses. The Phnom Penh government has now launched a …



While some countries fight to reclaim antiquities that were stolen centuries ago, Cambodian investigators are dealing with far more recent thefts. Many of the country’s prized treasures were taken by looters in the 1980s and 1990s and then sold on to some of the world’s most prestigious museums, including the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert museum, in London. At the centre of many of the sales was a rogue British art dealer. Celia Hatton joins the Cambodian investigative team and gains unprecedented access to looters who have become government witnesses. The Phnom Penh government has now launched a legal campaign in the UK to get some of its most prized statues back. For many Cambodians these are not simply blocks of stone or pieces of metal, they are living spirits and integral to the Khmer identity. The Gods, they say, are cold and lonely in foreign collections and they want to come home. Producer: John Murphy (Image: Monks at Angkor Wat temple, Cambodia. Credit: BBC)