11 July 2024

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, or The MET, has agreed to return two artefacts, including a bronze statue of Lord Shiva, known as the “Golden Boy”, which were smuggled out of Thailand over 50 years ago.

Culture Minister Sermsak Pongpanich said on Sunday that a representative of The MET spoke with the director-general of the Fine Arts Department, Phanombut Chantarachot, last Sunday, to hand over a letter from the MET’s director, informing the Thai government of the return of the two ancient sculptures.

The “Golden Boy” statue was discovered in Ban Yang, in the Lahan Sai district of Buri Ram, near the Cambodian border, during an archaeological dig at Prasat Ban Yang ruins over 50 years ago.

The other bronze sculpture, about 900 years old and 43cm tall, features a female figure in a kneeling position, with one knee on the floor and the other straightening up, and two hands above the head in a “wai” posture. The sculpture bears traces of being decorated with silver and gold ornaments.

Minister Sermsak said The MET has checked the origin of the two statues and found that they were connected with Douglas Latchford, an American antique trader, who was indicted by the New York attorney’s office for illegal trading of antiques in 2019 and 2021, prompting The MET’s board to remove the two statues from the museum’s inventory.

The two statues will be handed over to the office of the Thai consul-general in New York.