Tess Davis

Tess Davis
Tess Davis, a lawyer and archaeologist by training, is Executive Director of the Antiquities Coalition. She oversees the organization’s work to fight cultural racketeering and also manages the day-to-day operations of the institute’s staff in Washington, DC and New York, as well as programs in the Middle East and Asia.

Since 2013, Davis has been affiliated with the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, at the University of Glasgow. She came to Scotland from the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation — a not-for-profit institution based in Washington, DC — where she was Executive Director until 2012. She previously worked for the nongovernmental organization Heritage Watch in Cambodia, first as Project Coordinator, and finally Assistant Director. Her career began at the Archaeological Institute of America.

For the last decade, Davis has conducted extensive field research on the illicit trade in Cambodian antiquities, as well as legal research on the kingdom’s cultural property law. She also conceptualized and implemented a number of exciting projects in the country, including an exhibition at Angkor Wat about threats facing the temple, a hotline for the public to report archaeological discoveries or looting, and a children’s book entitled “If the Stones Could Speak.” From 2012-2014, she directed a legal internship program in Phnom Penh for international students from the Tulane-Siena Institute, who assist the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts with their legal needs.

Davis has been a legal consultant for the Cambodian and US federal governments and works with both the art world and law enforcement to keep looted antiquities off the market. She writes and speaks widely on these issues — having been published in CNN, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Cambodia Daily, and various scholarly publications — and featured in documentaries on PBS and ARTE. She contributes to both the the Conversation and Huffington Post.

After graduating magna cum laude from Boston University with a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology, Davis earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia School of Law. She now serves on the Advisory Board of Heritage Watch and is Vice Chair of the American Society of International Law’s Cultural Heritage and the Arts Interest Group. She is admitted to the New York State Bar.

In 2015, the Royal Government of Cambodia knighted Davis for her work to recover the country’s plundered treasures, awarding her the rank of Commander in the Royal Order of the Sahametrei.

Tess Davis in the News

The Destruction of Memory: Cultural Crimes and the National and International Efforts to Combat Them

On May 18, to help raise awareness about the global impact of cultural crimes, the Antiquities Coalition joined international diplomats and experts at the New York City Bar for a panel discussion and public [...]

By | May 30th, 2017|

Ancient Gold Angkorian Jewelry to Return to Cambodia From London

Ancient Gold Angkorian Jewelry to Return to Cambodia From London May 1, 2017 PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA A set of ancient Angkorian gold jewelry that found its way to a London art dealership will be returned [...]

By | May 1st, 2017|

Ancient Artifacts in London Returned to Cambodia

Ancient Artifacts in London Returned to Cambodia BY BEN PAVIOUR AND OUCH SONY | APRIL 24, 2017 The Culture Ministry received 10 Angkorian gold jewelry pieces in a ceremony in London on Friday after they [...]

By | April 24th, 2017|

Buyer Beware: US Market for Ancient Asian Art Still the Wild, Wild East

Buyer Beware: US Market for Ancient Asian Art Still the Wild, Wild East Cultural treasures stolen from conflict zones continue to pop up for sale in the United States and elsewhere. By Tess Davis | March [...]

By | March 14th, 2017|

Records Point to Dealer’s Role in Artifact Theft

Records Point to Dealer’s Role in Artifact Theft BY BEN PAVIOUR | FEBRUARY 22, 2017 Douglas Latchford, a globe-trotting 80-something Brit, has made a name for himself in real estate, bodybuilding and Southeast Asian antiquities [...]

By | February 22nd, 2017|

Antiquities Coalition Returns to New Orleans for Cultural Heritage Law Seminar on Museums, Ethics, and the Law

Antiquities Coalition Returns to New Orleans for Cultural Heritage Law Seminar on Museums, Ethics, and the Law The Antiquities Coalition is proud to have joined with the Federal Bar Association of New Orleans, the nation’s [...]

By | December 20th, 2016|