British auction houses develop ties with Cambodia

Sotheby's and Christie'shave been working with Cambodian authorities and organisations in the art world


Phnom Penh

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 The sculpture (est $2m-$3m) was withdrawn one day before a New York auction on 24 March 2011, after the Cambodian authorities requested its return.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'