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The Pandora Papers: AC’s Tess Davis Featured in the Guardian

October 9, 2021

Offshore loot: how notorious dealer used trusts to hoard Khmer treasures

The actions of the late Douglas Latchford – notorious antiquities trafficker and dealer – have been exposed once again in the media coverage of the Pandora Papers. 

Purchasing sculptures he is alleged to have known were looted from ancient Cambodian sites through organized criminal groups, Latchford made a living of millions by trafficking and selling the Khmer art to western buyers. With help from the US government, Cambodia is now seeking the return of the antiquities to their rightful homes.

As his daughter inherited a collection of 125 antiquities from Cambodia’s Khmer period, she had agreed to repatriate the statues, sculptures, and figurines tied to her father’s crimes.

Leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in the beginning of October, the Pandora Papers expose the use of trusts and offshore tax havens to pass antiquities and other assets to his daughter, thus circumventing being held accountable and paying inheritance taxes in the UK. 

Many of these antiquities have landed in the homes of wealthy art collectors, world-renowned auction houses, and even great museums.

People unfamiliar with the dirty trade in sacred antiquities might assume that Latchford’s 2019 indictment rang an alarm worldwide, and every organisation and person holding Khmer treasures that might have come from him will have inspected their provenance. In general, however, that has not happened. Tess Davis, the executive director of the Washington-based Antiquities Coalition, who has extensively researched Douglas Latchford and Cambodian looting networks, says that with a few exceptions, the response of museums worldwide has been “deafening silence”.

Read the full article here >>