Thanks for returning totally fake ‘relics,’ Cambodia says

Statues and other artifacts seized from a disgraced police commander’s hidden trove may not be treasures after all.

Thailand’s returners of the lost art say they returned five historical Khmer treasures to Cambodia this week, but experts there say they’re fakes – and not very good ones at that.

“I don’t know why they think the statues might be real,” Kong Vireak, director of the National Museum of Cambodia, said in the Phnom Penh Post of the five objects in question.

READ: Thailand to return some of Cambodia’s stolen treasures

Thailand’s Fine Arts Department said expert relic hunters helped choose the five particular objects which included a Khmer-style Buddha, Shiva, Brahma and multi-limbed figure. They believed them to be about six centuries old.

The French institute which has studied Khmer culture and managed the Angkor Wat complex for more than a century wasn’t impressed.

“I’ll be short. Those statues are new,” Bertrand Porte of Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient said.

Thailand, which has recognized that many of the objects recovered were indeed fake, has said it would return 16 of genuine artifacts with another 20 under consideration.

The objects were discovered in a hidden vault belonging to Pongpat Chayaphan, former head of the Central Investigation Bureau who was caught up in a wide scandal and removed from his duties for prosecution.

Photo: Thai Fine Arts Department

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