South China Morning Post Highlights AC’s Tess Davis for Work Recovering Cambodian Antiquities
June 22, 2023
The Kingdom of Cambodia is home to a rich cultural heritage, but decades of past unrest left this history vulnerable to criminals and destruction.
One of the most notable smugglers of Cambodia’s history was Douglas Latchford, who exploited the nation’s vulnerability during its long war with the Khmer Rouge. From the 1970s forward, Latchford looted countless masterpieces, using a complex network of shell companies and offshore accounts both to launder the artifacts themselves and his proceeds from them. Latchford died in 2020 fighting extradition from Thailand to the United States, where he was facing multiple felony charges for his role in plundering Cambodia’s past.
However, thankfully Latchford’s death did not stop efforts to secure justice, a mission in which Cambodia, in partnership with Federal authorities from the United States, has had much success. In recent years, repatriations of Latchford loot have constituted some of the biggest stolen art recoveries since after the Second World War, as well as the largest ever forfeiture of criminal proceeds from the sale of illicit antiquities.
The quest to take down Latchford was a long one. In a recent piece, the South China Morning Post highlighted the part played by Tess Davis, Executive Director of the Antiquities Coalition.
Davis, who some have dubbed “Indiana Jane” for her work preserving cultural heritage, worked on the Latchford case from the very beginning, alongside colleagues from Cambodia and around the world. To learn more about her efforts and story, read the full article here.