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The Duryodhana, a 10th century sandstone sculpture that was looted in the 1970s, has been returned to Cambodia. Photo courtesy ICE.

After being pried from a temple, beheaded and offered for auction, a statue has been returned to Cambodia. Below is a rundown on the case from customs enforcement:

Cambodian officials recognize HSI for return of ancient sandstone sculpture
May 7, 2014

NEW YORK — At a May 7 ceremony in New York, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York were commemorated by the Kingdom of Cambodia Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Sok An for the return of the Duryodhana, a 10th century sandstone sculpture.

The return of the Duryodhana follows the settlement of a civil forfeiture action filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which alleged that the Duryodhana was stolen from the Prasat Chen temple at Koh Ker in 1972 by an organized looting network, and ultimately imported into the United States and offered for sale by Sotheby’s Inc.

The settlement required Sotheby’s and the customer selling the Duryodhana, Decia Ruspoli de Poggia Suasa, to return the sculpture to the Kingdom of Cambodia.

According to an amended complaint filed in Manhattan federal court April 2013, and other documents filed in the case, from 928 to 944 A.D., Koh Ker was the capital of the ancient Khmer empire in Cambodia. The Khmer regime under Jayavarman IV constructed a vast complex of sacred monuments at Koh Ker, including the Prasat Chen temple and its statuary. These monuments have never been transferred to any private owner, and remain the property of the Cambodian state.

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