Showing posts with label Tess Davis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tess Davis. Show all posts

December 26, 2016

Some analysis of the Criminal Complaint against New York art dealer Nancy Wiener


In ARCA's December 25th blog post ARCA published the criminal complaint filed in Manhattan Criminal Court, signed by Special Agent Brenton Easter of the Department of Homeland Security, which indicated the charges presented against New York art dealer Nancy Wiener through her gallery Nancy Wiener Gallery.

Today we have thought to publish the sentencing guidelines should this defendant be convicted of the charges as well as a bit of distilled information about the individuals mentioned in the body of  the New York criminal complaint. 

In New York State, Criminal Conspiracy is punishable by law when one acts, agrees or performs with intent to commit a crime. Depending on the crime committed, a conspiracy charge could be prosecuted either as a NY State crime or as a United States Federal crime.  In this case a criminal complaint has been brought against Nancy Wiener for:

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in First Degree – NY Panel Law 165.54

A person is found guilty of criminal possession of stolen property in the first degree when he knowingly possesses stolen property, with intent to benefit himself or a person other than an owner thereof or to impede the recovery by an owner, and when the value of the value of the stolen property exceeds $1,000,000. 

The pending case against New York art dealer Nancy Wiener the New York Penal Law 165.54  would be classified as a “B” non violent felony.  As a potential first time offender Wiener faces a minimum of one to three years in prison and a maximum of eight and one third to twenty five years. Probation and community service are not options.

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in Second Degree – NY Penal Law 165.52

A person is found guilty of criminal possession of stolen property in the first degree when he knowingly possesses stolen property, with intent to benefit himself or a person other than an owner thereof or to impede the recovery by an owner, and when the value of the value of the stolen property exceeds $50,000.

The pending case against New York art dealer Nancy Wiener the New York Penal Law 165.52 would be classified as a “C” non violent felony. As a potential first time offender Wiener faces no minimum sentence but faces as much as five to fifteen years in prison. Alternate sentences include probation, probation coupled with jail, community service, fines and a conditional discharge.

There are four legal presumptions associated with New York Penal Law 165.55, the following are the two relevant ones in this case:
  1. A person who knowingly possesses stolen property is presumed to possess it with intent to benefit himself or a person other than an owner thereof or to impede the recovery by an owner thereof. This presumption is often referred to as recent exclusive possession.” There has been a tremendous body of case law addressing this presumption which argues for the position that if an accused has had the exclusive possession of stolen property after a theft crime has been perpetrated and there is evidence or circumstances which show an inability to explain where the property came from, a negative inference may in fact be drawn. That inference being that there is a strong likelihood that the accused knew that the property he or she possessed was stolen.
  2. A collateral loan broker or a person in the business of buying, selling or otherwise dealing in property who possesses stolen property is presumed to know that such property was stolen if he obtained it without having ascertained by reasonable inquiry that the person from whom he obtained it had a legal right to possess it.
Conspiracy in the fourth degree – NY Penal Law 105.10(1)

A person is guilty of conspiracy in the fourth degree when, with intent that conduct constituting:
  1. a class B or class C felony be performed, he or she agrees with one or more persons to engage in or cause the performance of such conduct; 

The pending case against New York art dealer Nancy Wiener the New York Penal Law 105.10(1) would be classified as a “E” non violent felony.  Punishment ranges for this offence range from no jail with probation to up to four years in state prison.

Conspiracy is relatively easy for prosecutors to prove because New York law does not require exact proof of language used in an agreement to commit a crime, and only requires the testimony of one party.  As seen in the complaint we published yesterday, there appears to be sufficient testimony to make this conspiracy charge stick.

Difference between a Criminal Complaint and a Criminal Indictment

A criminal complaint lists the charges that the prosecuting attorney will file against a person. It typically describes the nature of the offence and consists simply of a signed affidavit by the accuser.

A criminal indictment would be a written document, usually presented before a grand jury who decides if the charges warrant further action.  Criminal complaints require sworn testimony given under oath for the courts to move forward with the case.

UPDATE: Checking records at the New York State Unified Court System for this case, it now appears that this defendant has been indicted on Conspiracy in the fourth degree.    The defendant has entered a "Not Guilty" plea and has been released on her own recognisance.  Her next court appearance has been scheduled for February 28, 2017.

Who are the players mentioned in the antiquities looting network outlined in the criminal complaint?

From the content of the criminal complaint issued by New York prosecutors we get a preliminary outline of the pertinent facts alleged in the case that will then be presented in court should Ms. Wiener's case move on to trial.   The portrait painted by prosecutors illustrates what looks to be a complex network of looters, middlemen, and antiquities dealers that suggests the mentioned players have benefited financially from the trade in illicit antiquities for a number of years.

Here is a distilled summary of the key persons mentioned within the criminal complaint

Informant #1 - According to the criminal complaint this cooperating individual is a dealer in illegal antiquities known to the District Attorney. In the complaint Informant #1

  • allegedly implicated Co-Conspirator #1 in the purchase and sale of the Baphuon Shiva from Cambodia.
  • allegedly reported that Nancy Wiener had removed all records of where, when, from whom, and for how much each antiquity was acquired
  • allegedly reported that Nancy Wiener later told informant #1 that the records no longer existed. 
  • allegedly provided information on the Sharod Singh connection with the looted red sandstone relief (“Red Sandstone Couple”), from India, dated to the 1st–2nd Century C.E., 
  • allegedly provided information on the Vaman Ghiya connection with the a stolen mottled red sandstone relief depicting a Bacchanalian scene, dated to the 2nd Century C.E., 
  • allegedly implicated Co-Conspirator #5 in the sale to Doris Wiener of a silver-inlaid gilt bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara from Northeastern India or Western Tibet (China), dated to 10th-11th C.E.,
  • allegedly reported seeing objects procured by Co-Conspirator #6 the purchased by Nancy Wiener in New York unrestored, unmounted and/or without bases - classic signs of looting. 

Informant #2 - According to the criminal complaint this cooperating individual is another dealer in looted antiquities known to the District Attorney.  In the complaint Informant #2

  • allegedly provided information on the Naga Buddha
  • allegedly implicated Nancy Wiener in the purchase of Seated Buddha #1 from trafficker Vaman Ghiya
  • allegedly implicated Nancy Wiener in the purchase of Seated Buddha #2 from trafficker Vaman Ghiya
  • allegedly implicated Subpash Kapoor in the purchase and smuggling of the stolen Krishna Dancing on Kaliya (cobra) from Tamil Nadu, India, dating from the Chola Period (11th-12th Century)
  • allegedly implicated Co-Conspirator #4 in the handling and restoration of the stolen Krishna Dancing on Kaliya (cobra) from Tamil Nadu, India, dating from the Chola Period (11th-12th Century)
  • allegedly implicated Co-Conspirator #1 in the purchase of the stolen Krishna Dancing on Kaliya (cobra) from Tamil Nadu, India, dating from the Chola Period (11th-12th Century)
  • allegedly implicated Co-Conspirator #5 as being an antiquities smuggler of Tibetan descent based in Nepal and Hong Kong who was in frequent email contact with Defendant about illicit pieces from Nepal. 
  • allegedly implicated Co-Conspirator #6 and his father as being suppliers of illicit cultural property from primarily Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • allegedly provided information on false provenance provided for Christie's sale created for pieces that passed between Nancy Wiener and Co-Conspirator #6 

Informant #3 - According to the criminal complaint this cooperating individual is another dealer in looted antiquities known to the District Attorney.  In the complaint Informant #3
  • allegedly provided information on false provenance provided by Nancy Wiener for the Red Sandstone Couple
Co-conspirator #1 - According to the criminal complaint co-conspirator #1
  • allegedly is an antiquities dealer based in London and Bangkok
  • allegedly entered into an agreement with Nancy Wiener to purchase and sell a looted Baphuon Shiva from Cambodia, dated to the 11th Century C.E
  • allegedly shipped the Baphuon Shiva to London to be “cleaned, put together, and mounted.”
  • allegedly sold Nancy Wiener a bronze Buddha sitting on a throne of Naga stolen from Thailand or Cambodia, dated to the 10th Century C.E.
  • allegedly falsified provenance along with Nancy Wiener and Co-conspirator 2 for the bronze Buddha sitting on a throne of Naga stolen from Thailand or Cambodia, dated to the 10th Century C.E.
  • allegedly is a male 
  • allegedly admitted in email that he gave Co-Conspirator #2 bronze statues in exchange for false letters of provenance
  • allegedly purchased the Krishna Dancing on Kaliya from Subhash Kapoor
  • allegedly colluded with Nancy Wiener to create appraisal report for the Krishna Dancing on Kaliya 
Co-conspirator #2 - According to the criminal complaint co-conspirator #2
  • allegedly is a female research consultant for an American museum 
  • allegedly falsified provenance along with Nancy Wiener and Co-conspirator 1 for the bronze Buddha sitting on a throne of Naga stolen from Thailand or Cambodia, dated to the 10th Century C.E.
  • allegedly implicated by Co-conspirator #1 who stated he gave Co-Conspirator #2 bronze statues in exchange for false letters of provenance.
Co-conspirator #3 - According to the criminal complaint co-conspirator #3
  • allegedly is a New York-based restorer, 
  • allegedly restored the bronze Buddha sitting on a throne of Naga stolen from Thailand or Cambodia, dated to the 10th Century C.E. despite it having been struck by an agricultural tool, resulting in a jagged break - a sign of looting. 
  • allegedly restored the stolen marble Apsara ceiling panel.
Co-conspirator #4, - According to the criminal complaint co-conspirator #4
  • allegedly is a U.K.-based restorer used by Subhash Kapoor and Co-conspirator #1
  • allegedly restored the Krishna Dancing on Kaliya (cobra) stolen from Tamil Nadu, India, dating from the Chola Period (11th-12th Century).
Co-conspirator #5 - According to the criminal complaint co-conspirator #5
  • allegedly is an antiquities smuggler of Tibetan descent based in Nepal and Hong Kong. 
  • allegedly sold Doris Wiener a silver-inlaid gilt bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara.
  • allegedly incriminated Doris Wiener for providing false provenance on the silver-inlaid gilt bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara.
Co-conspirator #6 - According to the criminal complaint co-conspirator #6
  • allegedly is a male
  • and his father are allegedly suppliers of illicit cultural property from primarily Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • allegedly grew up in Pakistan and England. 
  • allegedly was implicated in several recorded conversations for shipping large quantities of newly dug-up, stolen antiquities from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Thailand, often via Hong Kong, and then to dealers from around the world.  
  • allegedly was implicated in selling Doris Wiener 14 stolen antiquities
Other individuals who are mentioned in the complaint

Vaman Ghiya - According to the criminal complaint, seized documents and statements made by informant #2 implicate Weiner in the purchase of the Seated Buddha #1 from Vaman Ghiya, someone who was listed as a long-time supplier from India who often used "Shantoo" to sell his looted antiquities. According to seized documents and informant #1, Doris Wiener was allegedly implicated in buying a stolen mottled red sandstone relief depicting a Bacchanalian scene from Ghiya that Wiener then allegedly falsely claiming that her mother had acquired from a private collection in London.

Ghiya is a known antiquities smuggler who allegedly confessed to selling 10,000 objects of Indian art via Sotheby’s—subject of a BBC sting operation.  Convicted in 2008 and sentenced to life imprisonment, the conviction was quashed on appeal because of procedural irregularities during the police prosecution.


Ranjeet Kanwar - According to the criminal complaint and statements by a former employee of Kapoor, “Shantoo” is the alleged nickname of Ranjeet Kanwar, one of Subhash Kapoor's alleged main suppliers of stolen antiquities from India.  His name appears on a computer disk file folder that contained three pictures of looted Seated Buddha #1 found at the Sofia Bros. Storage, in New York County, a storage facility rented by Subhash Kapoor.

Om Sharma - According to the criminal complaint, seized emails and statements by informants #1 and #2, it is alleged that Om Sharma is a supplier of illicit antiquities from India.  Wiener allegedly bought the stolen red sandstone figure depicting a Jain goddess from Sharma in 2009. The complaint also states that in August 2010, “Victor” had allegedly emailed Doris and Nancy Wiener separately to offer one of the Apsara Marbles, attaching pictures of the dirty, unrestored sculpture on the ground with what appeared to be cut marks. According to statements from informants #1 and #2, “Victor” is the alleged email pseudonym for Om and Badal Sharma.

Sharod Singh - According to the criminal complaint, informants #1 and #2, it is alleged that Sharod Singh is a supplier of illicit antiquities from India. According to emails and records provided by informant #1, Doris Wiener allegedly purchased a looted red sandstone relief (“Red Sandstone Couple”) from this individual in 2002 and the allegedly smuggled it into the US via via Kurt Anderson, Inc., a corporation owned by her.

The authorities have stated that they executed more than 50 search warrants as part of this investigation.




December 25, 2016

A criminal complaint that reads like a recipe for of illicit antiquities laundering: THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY vs. Nancy Wiener

This 12-page complaint filed in Manhattan Criminal Court, signed by Special Agent Brenton Easter of the Department of Homeland Security, lays out the charges against New York art dealer Nancy Wiener through her gallery Nancy Wiener Gallery.

The complaint is a textbook formula of how looted antiquities are laundered onto the licit art market through poor controls and a lack of ethics and transparency among the major players in the art market. 

The transcription below is the html version of the Court's PDF file version located here.

ARCA has elected to transcribe the document to make it searchable by future scholars conducting open source research on known traffickers. 



Page 1 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

Special Agent Brenton Easter, Shield 3014 of the Department of HomelandSecurity Investigations, states as follows: 

The defendant is charged with: 
1 PL 165.54 Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the First Degree (defendant #1: 1 count) 
2 PL 165.52 Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree (defendant #1: 1 count) 
3 PL 105.10(1) Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree (defendant #1: 1 count) 

At the times and places described below in the County and State of New York, the defendant knowingly possessed stolen property with a value in excess of one million dollars with intent to benefit a person other than an owner of the property and to impede recovery by an owner thereof; the defendant knowingly possessed stolen property with a value in excess of 50,000 dollars with intent to benefit a person than an owner of the property and to impede recovery by an owner thereof; the defendant, with intent that conduct constituting a class B or C felony be performed, agreed with one or more persons to engage in and cause the performance of such conduct. 

The factual basis for these charges are as follows: 

Deponent, a Special Agent with DHS-HSI, states that since approximately 2007, he has been assigned to a squad responsible for investigating, among other things, money laundering, smuggling of contraband, art fraud, and the interstate sale and transportation of stolen cultural property. As a Special Agent, Deponent has led or joined teams of agents and officers in the execution of judicially-authorized search and arrest warrants seeking the arrest of individuals and recovery of property and evidence in connection with illegal importations and exportations, and with the interstate and foreign transportation and sale of stolen goods. 

Deponent states that, based on participation in this and other investigations, he is familiar

Page 2 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

with the facts and circumstances of this investigation through the following: personal participation; discussions with agents in DHS-HSI and other foreign and domestic law enforcement agencies; interviews of witnesses, including cooperating witnesses that he has worked with on this and other cases; and records and reports relating to, or generated from, this investigation. No attempt has been made to set forth the complete details of this investigation that include tens of thousands of emails, documents, and photographs recovered pursuant to more than fifty judicially authorized search warrants. Statements andfacts listed have been summarized for the specific purposes of this complaint. 

CONSPIRACY. Between at least 1999 and 2016, with intent that conduct constituting the crimes of Grand Larceny in the First and Second Degrees and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the First and Second Degrees be performed, the Defendant utilized her business, Nancy Wiener Gallery, 49 East 74th Street, New York County, to buy, smuggle, launder, and sell millions of dollars’ worth of antiquities stolen from Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, India, Pakistan, and Thailand. 

A. OBJECTIVES AND METHODS OF THE CONSPIRACY. Defendant and her co-conspirators have trafficked in illegal antiquities for decades. Transporting looted cultural property from the site of the theft to the ultimate buyer through intermediary countries in order to hide the true country of origin, Defendant used a laundering process that included restoration services to hide damage from illegal excavations, straw purchases at auction houses to create sham ownership histories, and the creation of false provenance to predate international laws of patrimony prohibiting the exportation of looted antiquities. 

B. OVERT ACTS. 

1. BAPHUON SHIVA. According to documents provided by informant #1, a dealer in illegal antiquities known to the District Attorney, there was an agreement between Defendant and an antiquities dealer based in London and Bangkok (“Co-Conspirator #1.”) to purchase and sell a Baphuon Shiva from Cambodia, dated to the 11th Century C.E., 39.5 inches high, depicting Shiva standing, and valued at $578,500. Exhibit A. 

Baphuon Shiva, Cambodia
According to emails seized pursuant to search warrants, Defendant and Co-Conspirator #1 bought the Baphuon Shiva in September 2008 “direct from a supplier, and not through a

Page 3 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

dealer” for $250,000. According to informants #1 and #2 (another dealer in looted antiquities known to the District Attorney), buying from a “supplier” is an indication of a looted antiquity. Co-Conspirator #1 then shipped the Baphuon Shiva to London to be “cleaned, put together, and mounted.” In my experience, and according to informants #1 and #2, looted antiquities need to be “cleaned” of tell-tale dirt and debris; “put together,” because stolen statues are often cut up into smaller pieces-called “orphans”-for ease of smuggling; and “mounted,” because stolen statues and reliefs are, often cut from their original pedestal or wall. 

According to seized documents, Defendant then consigned the Baphuon Shiva to Sotheby's New York, for its 2011 sale of “Indian and Southeast Asian Works of Art.” In May 2010, a Sotheby’s employee noted that the Baphuon Shiva had “cracks and joins dressed up with paint splatters to mask repairs.” In my experience, and according to informants #1 and #2, because shovels and picks are frequently used during the clandestine theft of antiquities, such damage is often a sign of looting. According to seized emails, Defendant told Sotheby's the statue had been purchased from antiquities dealer Spink & Son around 1968, but that she had no written proof. In my experience, and according to informants #1 and #2, misrepresenting the true provenance of an antiquity is essential for selling stolen items in the market, because false provenance prevents the items from being easily traced and enables ownership records to be falsified to predate the patrimony laws of the antiquity’s country of origin. Sotheby’s sold the Baphuon Shiva as lot 29 from its showroom at 1334 York Avenue, New York County on March 24, 2011, for $578,500

2. NAGA BUDDHA. In November 2011, Co-Conspirator #1 sold Defendant for $500,000 a stolen bronze Buddha from Thailand or Cambodia, dated to the 10th Century C.E., 17.75 inches high, depicting Buddha sitting on a throne of Naga (snake), with a market value of $1,500,000. Exhibit B. According to informant #2, the Naga Buddha came from the Khmer Empire-present-day Cambodia and parts of Thailand.

Buddha sitting on a Naga (snake) throne
According to seized emails, Defendant had earlier begun falsifying the Naga Buddha's provenance with Co-Conspirator #1 and Co-Conspirator #2 (who works as a research consultant for an American museum) by arranging for a photograph of the Naga Buddha to be published in a 2011 book. In my experience, and according to informants #1 and #2, publishing a photograph of a looted antiquity is a common laundering practice. In another

Page 4 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

email, Co-Conspirator #2 wrote that she had “changed” the provenance “a bit,” asking Co-Conspirator #1 if the changes were “okay.” Co-Conspirator #1 then emailed Defendant, seeking her approval. In another email, Co-Conspirator #1 told Defendant that he typically gave Co-Conspirator #2 bronze statues in exchange for false letters of provenance. 

In January 2016, Defendant shipped the Naga Buddha to a New York-based restorer (“Co-Conspirator #3”) for restoration, stating its value to be $850,000. In February 2016, Co-Conspirator #3 emailed Defendant a bill for the restoration, noting that the Naga Buddha appeared to have been struck by an agricultural tool, resulting in a jagged break - a sign of looting. Defendant displayed the Naga Buddha for sale for $1,500,000 in the Nancy Wiener Gallery until Deponent seized it pursuant to a warrant in March 2016. 

3. TWO SEATED BUDDHAS. In 1999, Defendant possessed, through her gallery, a stolen sandstone seated Buddha, from India, dated to the 1st-3rd Century C.E., 33 inches high and valued at $500,000 (“Seated Buddha #1"). Exhibit C. In 2000, Defendant sold the statue to Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum (“Singapore”) without any statement of provenance. Years later, when Singapore requested provenance, Defendant first claimed that Seated Buddha #1 had belonged to an unnamed European collection for at least 35 to 40 years, but then stated that the owner's father had acquired the piece in India. According to seized emails, Defendant then provided a third version: that the piece had belonged to Ian Donaldson, who purchased it when posted to Vietnam between 1964 and 1966. 

Pursuant to a search warrant executed at Sofia Bros. Storage, in New York County, a storage facility rented by separately charged defendant Subhash Kapoor (“Kapoor”) for his business, Art of the Past, Deponent discovered an unlabeled computer disc containing a folder titled “Shantoo.” According to a former employee of Kapoor, “Shantoo” is the nickname of Ranjeet Kanwar, one of Kapoor's main suppliers of stolen antiquities from India. The disc contained three pictures of Seated Buddha #1; in one, dated “92 11 8,” the statue appearsstill wet as it lay on a dirty floor in front of a makeshift black backdrop. Exhibit D. According to informant #2 and seized documents, Defendant purchased Seated Buddha #1 from Vaman Ghiya, a long-time supplier from India who often used Shantoo to sell his looted antiquities. 

According to informant #2 and seized documents, Defendant also acquired a second stolen

Page 5 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

seated Buddha (“Seated Buddha #2”) from Ghiya, possessing it through her gallery until she sold it to the National Gallery of Australia (“Australia”), in Canberra, Australia, in 2007 for $1,080,000. Exhibit E. In May 2006, Defendant told an employee of the NGA that she had purchased Seated Buddha #2 in 2000, “but knew of it several years prior to that,” and that “[i]t was originally purchased in Hong Kong by an Englishman posted there between1964-66.” When asked for proof, Defendant again used the name Ian Donaldson. Thus, for Australia, she claimed Ian Donaldson had been posted to Hong Kong between 1964-66, despite the fact that she told Singapore Ian Donaldson “was posted to Vietnam.” between 1964–66. 

4. KRISHNA. Pursuant to a search warrant executed at Kapoor's gallery at 1242 Madison Ave, in New York County, Deponent discovered a computer with an e-file entitled “travel.” A subfolder entitled “05 10 India” contained pictures of cultural property Kapoor purchased in India in October 2005 and later smuggled to New York. Some of these pictures depict Krishna Dancing on Kaliya (cobra) from Tamil Nadu, India, dating from the Chola Period (11th-12th Century). Exhibits F-G. In the pictures, the statue was still encrusted with dirt - in my experience, and according to informants #1 and #2, this indicates recent looting. 

According to informant #2, Kapoor purchased the Krishna in India and smuggled it to NewYork hidden in a shipment of legal handicrafts - in my experience, this is a common practice to evade U.S. Customs. According to a document recovered from Kapoor's computer, Kapoor sent the statue in June 2006 to a U.K. -based restorer (“Co-Conspirator #4”) for restoration to hide the signs of looting. According to informant #2 and seized emails, Co-Conspirator #1 - who frequently used Co-Conspirator #4 to clean and restore stolen cultural property - saw the Krishna during restoration and bought it. Another document on Kapoor's computer records the sale to Co-Conspirator #1 for “650,000.00” on “30-Aug.” 

According to seized emails, in June 2011, Co-Conspirator #1 emailed Defendant pre- and post-restoration pictures of the stolen Krishna, and requested that Defendant prepare an appraisal to assist in the future sale of the statue. According to a document on her computer, “Asian treasures Final v4,” Defendant provided an appraisal for $3,500,000. 

4. DORIS WIENER COLLECTION. According to documents on Defendant’s computer, upon Doris Wiener's death in April 2011, antiquities that had been owned by Doris Wiener

Page 6 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

Gallery in New York County were transferred to the estate of Doris Wiener, of which Defendant was co-executor. According to informant #1, Defendant removed all records ofwhere, when, from whom, and for how much each piece was acquired (filling multiple file cabinets) and later told informant #1 that the records no longer existed. 

According to seized emails, Defendant contacted Sotheby's New York to sell the collection, but could not provide documentation that the antiquities had been removed from their countries of origin prior to each country’s patrimony laws. According to Tess Davis, an expert in the laws of patrimony, those years are 1980 for Afghanistan, 1900 for Cambodia, 1982 for China, 1972 for India, 1956 for Nepal, 1975 for Pakistan, and 1961 for Thailand. 

According to seized emails, Defendant instead consigned the collection to Christie's New York, because their policy requires only that an antiquity have been out of its country of origin prior to 2000 (or 1999 for Cambodia), regardless of that country’s patrimony law. In November 2011, Christie's requested provenance information for the “top 20 lots” of the sale, and Defendant provided a document, “Provenance and Country of Origin Details,” that contained false provenance. According to that document, of the 380 lots in the collection, ten came from Spink & Son (an antiquities dealer Defendant had falsely listed as provenance for other stolen antiquities); and four were originally owned by Doris Wiener (who had consigned them for auction to Sotheby’s or Christie's and then reacquired them - in my experience, and according to informants #1 and #2, this type of straw purchase is a common laundering tactic to create a false ownership history). Of the remaining 366 lots, eight were listed with an ownership history prior to Doris Wiener. Six of those eight listed Sotheby’s or Christie's, one listed a “member of the Diplomatic Corps,” and one listed an actual name. For the 380 lots, then, Defendant provided the name of an owner prior to Doris Wiener (other than Spink & Son) for one lot. Christie's offered all 380 lots for sale from its showroom at 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York County, on March 20, 2012, resulting in a total sale of $12,796,437. 

This portion of the conspiracy utilized the following trafficking networks: 

a. OM SHARMA NETWORK. According to seized emails and informants #1 and #2, Om Sharma is a supplier of illicit antiquities from India. Beginning in 2008, Doris Wiener had a series of email exchanges with Sharma about buying a stolen red sandstone figure, from

Page 7 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

India, dated to the 12th Century C.E., 26 inches high, depicting a Jain goddess, and valued at $74,500. According to these emails, Doris Wiener had seen the Jain Goddess still wet and pre-restoration-signs of looting. Exhibits H-J. She bought the statue in 2009, wiring the money to Hong Kong, and smuggled the piece to her New York gallery. 

This Jain Goddess was one of the pieces consigned by Defendant to Christie's (lot 48) for its sale of March 20, 2012. According to seized emails, Defendant falsely claimed to Christie's that the Jain Goddess had been in a private collection in London dating back to the 1980s, before her mother acquired it in New York in 2009. It sold for $74,500. 

b. SHAROD SINGH NETWORK. According to informants #1 and #2, Sharod Singh is a supplier of illicit antiquities from India. According to emails and records provided by informant #1, Doris Wiener in 2002 bought a looted red sandstone relief (“Red Sandstone Couple”), from India, dated to the 1st–2nd Century C.E., and valued at $150,000. Exhibit K. Doris Wiener then smuggled the relief into the United States via Kurt Anderson, Inc., a corporation owned by her to facilitate the importation of looted antiquities. Her 2007 Kurt Anderson account ledger lists a red sandstone couple as line #49, “Sharod Singh Seated Stones (3) Partnership with Nancy, S1044-S1047, $150,000.00.” 

This Red Sandstone Couple was one of the pieces Defendant consigned to Christie's (lot 22) for its sale of March 20, 2012. According to seized emails, Defendant first told Christie's that her mother had acquired the relief “in London in the late 1990’s.” During a recorded conversation after the sale, Defendant admitted using a surrogate to purchase the statue for herself at auction—a tactic often used to launder the statue and later sell it at a higher price as a previously “published” piece. According to recovered documents, and to complete the laundering process, Defendant then changed the provenance to “the 1970s,” and received a certificate from the Art Loss Register. In March of 2016, informant #3, another dealer in illegal antiquities, saw the Red Sandstone Couple at the Nancy Wiener Gallery. Defendant offered the relief for sale, using a third provenance: that it had been in her mother's collection since 1992. As proof of its legitimacy, Defendant noted its publication in a catalogue as part of her mother's estate sale at Christie's in 2012. 

According to seized documents, Defendant also consigned to Christie's four other pieces from her mother's collection that had come from the Singh Network (lots 23, 24, 47, and

Page 8 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

67). In total, three of these five pieces sold at Christie's on March 20, 2012, for $70,000.00. 

c. VAMAN GHIYA NETWORK. In August 1992, Defendant sent a fax document to the supplier Vaman Ghiya (listed above), requesting that he “[p]lease call Nancy Wiener at the Hotel Storchen in Zurich immediately.” That same year, according to seized documents and informant #1, Doris Wiener bought a stolen mottled red sandstone relief depicting a Bacchanalian scene, dated to the 2nd Century C.E., 25 1/2 inches high, and valued at $180,000, from Ghiya in India. Exhibit L. This relief was consigned by Defendant to Christie's (lot 20) for its sale of March 20, 2012. According to seized documents, Defendant falsely claimed that her mother had acquired it from a private collection in London. 

According to seized emails and documents, Defendant consigned to Christie's five other pieces from her mother's collection that had come from the Ghiya Network (lots 20, 21, 27, 45, 49, 55). For two of the consigned statues (lot 49 - Exhibit M and lot 55 - Exhibit O), there were pictures in the Shantoo (Ranjeet Kanwar) file on Kapoor's computer showing the pieces still in situ. Exhibits N and P.  Five of these six pieces sold at Christie's on March 20, 2012, for $478,750.

d. THE HIMALAYAN NETWORK. According to seized documents and informant #2, Co-Conspirator #5 is an antiquities smuggler of Tibetan descent based in Nepal and Hong Kong who was in frequent email contact with Defendant about illicit pieces from Nepal. According to informant #1, in 2002, Co-Conspirator #5 sold Doris Wiener a silver-inlaid gilt bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara from Northeastern India or Western Tibet (China), dated to 10th-11th C.E., and valued at $812,500. Exhibit Q. This Avalokiteshvara was one of the pieces consigned by Defendant to Christie's (lot 87) for its sale of March 20, 2012. According to seized emails, Defendant falsely claimed to Christie's that her mother had acquired the relief from a “private collection, Europe, early 1990’s.” During a recorded conversation in March 2016, Co-Conspirator #5 was asked if the provenance in the Christie's catalogue provided by Defendant for the “Silver-inlaid Gilt Bronze Figure of Avalokiteshvara,” was accurate. Co-Conspirator #5 laughed and said defendant knew that he had acquired the statue from Tibet and sold it to Doris Wiener. This statue sold at Christie's on March 20, 2012, for $812,500. 



e. THE GANDHARAN NETWORK. According to informant #2, Co-Conspirator #6 and

Page 9 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

his father are suppliers of illicit cultural property from primarily Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to several recorded conversations, Co-Conspirator #6 has been shipping large quantities of newly dug-up, stolen antiquities from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Thailand, often via Hong Kong, and then to dealers from around the world for more than a decade. 

According to seized sales invoices, Doris Wiener purchased 14 stolen antiquities in January 2011 from Co-Conspirator #6, including a gray schist relief Buddha receiving a golden bowl, a gray schist relief Buddha receiving the sheaf of grass, a gray schist relief Buddha and the devotees, all dated to 2nd-3rd Century, all between 17–20 inches high, all from Afghanistanor Pakistan, and valued at a total of $32,000. Exhibits R-T. According to informant #1, who saw the artifacts upon their arrival in New York from Asia, they were unrestored, unmounted and/or without bases - classic signs of looting. These reliefs were consigned by Defendant to Christie's (lots 1, 2, 3) for its sale of March 20, 2012.


According to seized documents, Defendant consigned to Christie's six other pieces that had come from Co-Conspirator #6 or his father (lots 5, 7, 14, 16, 18, and 38) for the sale. For six of the nine pieces, Defendant falsely claimed that her mother had acquired the pieces from a “Private Collector, Thailand, mid-1980s or earlier” (lots 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 18). According to informant #2, that provenance was false because the “private collector” was Co-Conspirator #6, who in the mid-1980s was a child living in Pakistan and England. According to seized documents, for two of the three remaining pieces, Christie's altered the provenance, changing Defendant’s “by late 1990s” to “by late 1980s” for lot 14 and changing “2011” to“by 1996” for lot 7. On March 20, 2012, eight of these nine pieces sold at Christie's for $196,500. 

CRIMINAL POSSESSION OF STOLEN PROPERTY IN THE FIRST DEGREE: NAGA BUDDHA. As noted above, in November 2011, Co-Conspirator #1 sold to Defendant for $500,000 a stolen bronze Buddha depicting Buddha sitting on a throne of Naga (snake), from Thailand or Cambodia, dated to the 10th Century C.E., 17.75 incheshigh. Exhibit B. Defendant displayed the Naga Buddha for sale for its market value of $1,500,000 in her gallery, until it was seized pursuant to a warrant in March 2016. 

CRIMINAL POSSESSION OF STOLEN PROPERTY IN THE SECOND DEGREE: THE APSARA MARBLES. From on or about September 2010 to on or about at least

Page 10 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

March 2016, Defendant possessed a stolen marble Apsara ceiling panel depicting a female figure (“Apsara Marble”), from India, dated to the 10th Century A.D., 44 inches tall, and valued at $500,000. According to theft reports prepared by the Archaeological Survey of India (“ASI”) and filed with Interpol, a total of six celestial marble statutes were stolen from the ceiling of the Toos temple in India between November 2009 and September 2010. Exhibits U-V. According to seized emails, in September and October 2010, Defendant received several emails about the theft of the Apsara Marbles as well as pictures of the stolen statues. A month earlier, in August 2010, “Victor” had emailed Doris and Nancy Wiener separately to offer one of the Apsara Marbles, attaching pictures of the dirty, unrestored sculpture on the ground with what appeared to be cut marks. Exhibit W. According to informants #1 and #2, “Victor” is the email pseudonym for Om and Badal Sharma (see paragraph 5a above). According to a recorded conversation of a former employee of the Nancy Wiener Gallery, this Apsara Marble arrived at the Gallery around the same time as this string of emails, and then Defendant sent it to Co-Conspirator #3 for restoration. According to emails and documents seized from Defendant’s computer, she was still in possession of the Apsara Marble in March 2016. 

Tess Davis, a member of the New York State Bar and affiliate of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow, has conducted extensive field research on the illicit trade in Asian antiquities since 2004. 

Afghanistan. Ms. Davis is familiar with the cultural property laws of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, including the 1980 Law on Protection of Historical and Cultural Properties as modified in 2004, and the 1958 Code for the Protection of Antiquities. According to Ms. Davis, this legal regime protects cultural heritage, vesting its ownership in the state. 

Cambodia. Ms. Davis is familiar with Cambodian law governing cultural patrimony,including, inter alia, Arrété du Gouverneur Général de l'Indochine sur la conservation desmonuments et objets ayant un intérêt historique ou artistique du 9 mars 1900; Arrété relativeau classement, à la conservation et à la protection des monuments historiques des pays deprotectorat du 11 juillet 1925; 1968 Law on the Organization of Suppressing the Acts of Stealing, Receipt of Stolen Goods, and Destruction of Patrimony Relating to the National Heritage; 1992 Land Law; 1996 Law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage; and 2001 Land Law. According to Ms. Davis, this legal regime protects cultural heritage, vesting its


Page 11 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

ownership in the state. 

China. Ms. Davis is familiar with the cultural property laws of the People's Republic of China, which includes the Tibet Autonomous Region, including the Law on Protection of Cultural Relics (of 19 November 1982 as revised on 29 June 1991 and 28 October 2002). According to Ms. Davis, this and the country’s broader legal regime protects cultural heritage, vesting ownership of immoveable and moveable “cultural relics” in the state. 

India. Ms. Davis is familiar with the cultural patrimony laws of India, including theAntiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972, along with the Antiquities and Art Treasures Rules, 1973 (updated January 2012), and the Ancient and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958 (updated in 2010). According to Ms. Davis, this legal regime protects culturalheritage, vesting its ownership in the state. 

Nepal. Ms. Davis is familiar with the cultural property laws of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, including the Ancient Monuments Protection Act of 1956 as amended in1964, 1970, and 1994. According to Ms. Davis, this legal regime protects ancient monuments and archaeological objects, vesting its ownership in the state. 

Pakistan. Ms. Davis is familiar with the cultural property laws of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, including the 1975 Antiquities Act (as amended in 1992), and its predecessors the Antiquities Act of 1968 and Ancient Monuments Preservation Act of 1904. According to Ms. Davis, this legal regime protects archaeological sites and objects, vesting the ownership of undiscovered antiquities in the state. 

Thailand. Ms. Davis is familiar with the cultural property laws of the Kingdom of Thailand, including the 1961 Act on Ancient Monuments, Antiquities, Objects of Art, and National Museums (as amended in 1992). According to Ms. Davis, this legal regime protects archaeological sites and objects, vesting its ownership in the state.

Page 12 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

False statements made in this written instrument are punishable as a class A misdemeanor pursuant to section 210.45 of the Penal Law, and as other crimes. 

Signed, Special Agent Brenton Easter 
Date December 21, 2016
Time: 11:40

June 30, 2014

University of Glasgow's Simon MacKenzie received Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Excellence in Art Crime Scholarship for his work on the Trafficking Culture project

Noah Charney (left) and Simon Mackenzie (right) in Amelia
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

AMELIA - ARCA Founder Noah Charney presented the 2014 Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Excellence in Art Crime Scholarship to Simon MacKenzie, Trafficking Culture project at The University of Glasgow,  at ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference.

"I would like to thank ARCA for the award and my colleagues and graduate students at the University of Glasgow for their support and their individual contributions to the great research team we now have," Simon Mackenzie said about the award. "It's really valuable to receive peer recognition for research and I take this award as encouragement to continue with our efforts in the Trafficking Culture project to produce systematic and reliable empirical work in support of the development of crime reduction policies in this field."

Simon Mackenzie discussing Temple Looting in Cambodia
Upon receipt of the award, Professor Mackenzie invited attendees to visit the Trafficking Culture website and download the article on "Temple Looting in Cambodia: Anatomy of a Trafficking Network" (free for a limited time) via the British Journal of Criminology website here.

You may read more about Professor Mackenzie here.


Past winners: Norman Palmer (2009), Larry Rothfield (2010), Neil Brodie (2011), Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino (Jointly – 2012), Duncan Chappell (2013).

June 4, 2014

Wednesday, June 04, 2014 - ,, No comments

Cambodia celebrates the reunion of three Hindu statues after four decades

Photo credit to Tess Davis (Facebook)
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Tess Davis, former ARCA lecturer in Cultural Property Law for our program in 2009 and 2010, is in Cambodia celebrating the return of three ancient statues and posting links on Facebook to news headlines.

"Statues 40 year reunion":  Laignee Barron & Vong Sukheng reported for The Phneom Penh Post:
Three of Cambodia’s ancient sandstone warriors were welcomed back to their birthplace yesterday, greeted by lotus wreathes and a troupe of traditional dancers adorned in gold. The ceremony marked the end of a 40-year absence for the Duryodhana, Bhima and Balarama statues. The mammoth, 10th-century characters all belong to the same tableau of mythological Hindu figures once locked in battle at Prasat Chen, a remote jungle temple in Preah Vihear. Over the past year, Cambodia has regained five of the nine statues pillaged from the temple’s Eastern entrance, haphazardly hacked from their pedestals and sold on to international art markets during the Khmer Rouge era. “Surviving civil wars, looting, smuggling and travelling the world, these three have now regained their freedom and returned home,” Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said during yesterday’s repatriation ceremony.
Here's a link to a video of the ceremony.

"Cambodia welcomes back looted 10th-century statues": Kate Bartlett, Anadolu Agency, reported:
With the help of the U.S. government and UNESCO,Cambodia first got the ball rolling in 2012 when it filed a suit against the New York-based auction house Sotheby's after the institution put a statue known as "The Duryodhana" -- valued at about $3 million -- up for sale. Earlier this year, with the case still ongoing, Sotheby's agreed to return the statue. The mighty "Duryodhana" was one of the impressive pieces unveiled at Tuesday's ceremony, alongside statues known as the Bhima and Balarama, returned by the Norton Simon Museum of California and Christie's auction house, respectively. While legal action was originally taken against Sotheby's in the case of the "Duryodhana," Christie's returned its statue voluntarily after discovering it was looted. The Norton Simon Museum did the same. 
Tess Davis, an affiliate researcher at the University of Glasgow who specializes in cultural heritage law, said Tuesday, "It's a very exciting day, not just for Cambodia, but for all countries that have been plundered." "Cambodia's on the right side of history here," she added. 
Anne Lemaistre, head of Cambodia's UNESCO office, called the statues' return "a big coup" for Cambodia and said that it might act as an incentive for other museums and private collectors to return looted antiquities. "Now let's see what Cleveland would say," Lemaistre said, referring to the museum’s recent denial that the Angkor statue in its possession was looted. 
Buddhist majority Cambodia, which has a rich cultural heritage influenced by Indian traditions and Hindu legends, is famed for its temples, and the intricate engravings of graceful traditional dancers and mythological characters adorning their walls. Representatives from Christie's and the Norton Simon who attended the ceremony said they were delighted to have been able to help Cambodia recover some of its valuable cultural heritage. "These statues... were callously hacked... and trafficked on the international art market," Jeff Daigle, deputy chief of mission for the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia, said in a speech, expressing the U.S.’s commitment to stopping the illegal arts trade. "We must not forget that the commercial trade in illicit art remains," he added.
 In 2011, Ms. Davis wrote about the lack of provenance in auction catalogue for objects from Cambodia.

December 30, 2013

Was the repatriation of a footless 10th century statue to Cambodia this month related to Sotheby's history of selling Khmer pieces with "no published provenance" or "weak" collecting histories?

This month's repatriation of a 10th century footless sandstone statue looted from an archaeological site in Cambodia has a backstory going back a few years. In an academic article published in July 2011, Tess Davis, then assistant director of Heritage Watch, wrote that Sotheby's Auction House had listed 377 Khmer pieces for sale between 1988 and 2010:
Seventy-one percent of the antiquities had no published provenance, or ownership history, meaning they could not be traced to previous collections, exhibitions, sales, or publications. Most of the provenances were weak, such as anonymous private collections, or even prior Sotheby’s sales. None established that any of the artifacts had entered the market legally, that is, that they initially came from archaeological excavations, colonial collections, or the Cambodian state and its institutions. While these statistics are alarming, in and of themselves, fluctuations in the sale of the unprovenanced pieces can also be linked to events that would affect the number of looted antiquities exiting Cambodia and entering the United States. This correlation suggests an illegal origin for much of the Khmer material put on the auction block by Sotheby’s
In the summer of 2011, Jane Levine of Sotheby's objected to Ms. Davis' article and demanded a retraction. About six months later, Cambodia asked that Ms. Levine be removed from a cultural panel based on perceived ethical conflicts.

At the end of February 2012, Tom Mashberg and Ralph Blumenthal wrote in The New York Times ("Mythic Warrior is Captive in Global Art Theft", February 28, 2012) that the Cambodian government had asked the U.S. for help to stop the sale of a reputedly looted 10th century Khmer Koh Ker footless sandstone statue Sotheby's intended to sell in March. This month, almost two years later, an agreement was reached to return the disputed statue, now described as a Duryodhana statue, to Cambodia ("Duryodhana statue from Prasat Chen, Cambodia: "Voluntary" Repatriation by Sotheby's and consigner").

Ms. Davis is now a Researcher in the Scottish Center for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow.

October 5, 2011

What does lack of provenance indicate in sales catalogues? Tess Davis of Heritage Watch writes that Sotheby's lack of provenance information from 1988-2010 indicates sale of looted antiquities; Compliance Officer Jane Levine of Sotheby's Disagrees

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-chief

The Getty Center's exhibit in 2011, Gods of Angkor, displayed masterpieces from the National Museum of Cambodia in a small room at the Brentwood complex from February through August. But throughout the 1990s, Sotheby's sold Cambodian art through various auctions. Where did these pieces originate from and were they looted or legally traded?

Tess Davis, assistant director of Heritage Watch, a nonprofit group dedicated to the preservation of cultural property in Southeast Asia, published an article, "Supply and demand: exposing the illicit trade in Cambodian antiquities through a study of Sotheby's auction house" in the July issue of Crime, Law and Social Change (Springer Science+Business Media BV 2011). This is the abstract:
"Looters are reducing countless ancient sites to rubble in their search for buried treasures to sell on the international market. The trafficking of these and other stolen cultural objects has developed into a criminal industry that spans the globe. For numerous reasons, the small Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia presents an opportunity to ground this illicit trade in reality. This paper supplements previous studies that have detailed the pillaging of the country’s archaeological sites, and aims to better comprehend the trafficking of its artifacts, through an investigation of their final destination: the international art market. Of course, the global market for Cambodian art is wide, but Sotheby’s Auction House provides an excellent sample. For over 20 years, its Department of Indian and Southeast Asian Art in New York City has held regular sales of Cambodian antiquities, which have been well published in print catalogues and on the web. These records indicate that Sotheby’s has placed 377 Khmer pieces on the block since 1988—when those auctions began—and 2010. An analysis of these sales presents two major findings. Seventy-one percent of the antiquities had no published provenance, or ownership history, meaning they could not be traced to previous collections, exhibitions, sales, or publications. Most of the provenances were weak, such as anonymous private collections, or even prior Sotheby’s sales. None established that any of the artifacts had entered the market legally, that is, that they initially came from archaeological excavations, colonial collections, or the Cambodian state and its institutions. While these statistics are alarming, in and of themselves, fluctuations in the sale of the unprovenanced pieces can also be linked to events that would affect the number of looted antiquities exiting Cambodia and entering the United States. This correlation suggests an illegal origin for much of the Khmer material put on the auction block by Sotheby’s."
According to journalists Riah Pryor and Melanie Gerlis of The Art Newspaper (October 2011) in their article "Sotheby's calls on author to retract looted art report", Jane Levine, Sotheby's world-wide director of compliance, wrote a letter dated August 26 to Davis requesting that her published article be retracted. According to the journalists: 
Levine objects principally to the report's view that that auction house routinely sold Khmer antiquities that were illegally removed or transported out of Cambodia and says 'the paper is devoid of any credible factual support for such serious and damaging allegations.'
Levine, who spoke on a panel at the meeting commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Convention in March in Paris at UNESCO about Sotheby's stricter compliance regulations in selling antiquities, 'says a lack of provenance, particularly when limited to a catalogue entry, does not necessarily mean the origin is illegal,' Pryor and Gerlis quoted.

In her article, Davis wrote:
"Sotheby’s has repeatedly been caught auctioning stolen art and looted antiquities, including pieces from Cambodia. For example, Sotheby’s repatriated two sandstone heads and a statuette to Cambodia after they were published by Looting in Angkor: One Hundred Missing Objects, a 1993 report of UNESCO’s International Council of Museums (ICOM), which pleaded for the return of 100 valuable antiquities stolen from the Conservation d’Angkor in the 1980s and early 1990s. In his exposé Sotheby’s: The Inside Story (1997), journalist Peter Watson uncovered that sculptures from Angkor Wat had been smuggled into Sotheby’s London offices disguised as “dolls” and “stone torsos,” on at least two separate occasions."
This history at Sotheby's prompted Davis to look at Sotheby's auction catalogues from 1988 to 2010 in regards to the sale of Cambodian art. The absence of the information about the provenance or the history of the objects prompted Davis to ask about the legality of the sale of these objects, a question raised for the past 40 years since the international UNESCO treaty began the dialogue that only cooperation between countries could stem the looting and sale of looted cultural property. In 2006, a PBS show, Illicit Antiquities, featured Heritage Watch discussing the loss of cultural property from Cambodia.

Davis' survey of Sotheby catalogues over more than 20 years found that almost 70% of the objects for sale omitted information about the history of sale of the objects. Levine objects to Davis' observations and the conclusion that such an omission facilitates the sale of potentially looted objects. Levine and Sotheby's could continue the discussion about the auction house's sale of Cambodian art by now providing the information to document the legal or illegal trade of these objects.

ARCA blog caught up via email with Heritage Watch's founder and director, Dr. Dougald O'Reilly, and asked him about the extent of looting in Cambodia:
Dr. O'Reilly: Looting is still a major problem in Cambodia, yes. The type of looting has evolved from targeting temple sites for sculpture and relief (although this still occurs) to looting prehistoric sites, digging up graves for beads and other artefacts.
Is it important that provenance information be published in an auction house's sales catalogue?
Dr. O'Reilly: Publishing provenance is crucial. If there is no provenance, it is rather suspicious.  It should be part of the auction houses' codes of conduct.
Would I want to know this information before purchasing an object from Cambodia?
Dr. O'Reilly: If you were a buyer, yes you should want to know this unless you care little for the preservation of cultural heritage. One of the problems is that collectors often see themselves as protectors of the past, 'it is safer with me than in the developing country it came from' attitude. Clearly this is a neo-colonialist, out-dated and arrogant point of view but it is always the argument brought to bear. The British government have used it for decades in regard to the Parthenon marbles. Why have they not been returned when there is a state-of-the-art facility in Athens to house them?