Both of the major international auction houses are developing links with Cambodia, albeit in very different ways. Christie’s held a charity auction last month in Phnom Penh, raising $40,000 for Cambodian Living Arts, set up to help ensure the future of the country’s traditional arts. Meanwhile, Sotheby’s is trying to resolve a claim over a tenth-century sandstone sculpture (left), probably from Koh Ker. The consignor bought it in England in 1975, before Cambodia’s 1993 law nationalising cultural heritage. The sculpture (est $2m-$3m) was withdrawn one day before a New York auction on 24 March 2011, after the Cambodian authorities requested its return. A statement from Sotheby’s last month says Cambodia has endorsed a plan to encourage a philanthropist to “purchase the statue from the consignor and donate it to Cambodia”.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Auction houses develop ties with Cambodia'