Returned Golden Boy statue unveiled at National Museum Bangkok
Returned Golden Boy statue unveiled at National Museum BangkokLegacy

Eager crowds gathered at the National Museum Bangkok yesterday to witness the unveiling of the recently repatriated Golden Boy statue, a 900 year old artefact smuggled out of Thailand in 1975 by the infamous art dealer Douglas Latchford.

The Golden Boy, along with a bronze statue of a kneeling lady, was returned to Thailand from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the United States. Both statues arrived back in the country the previous day.

The Golden Boy had been held by the Met from 1988 until its return this year. Last December, the museum agreed to return these statues to Thailand, as well as 14 artefacts to Cambodia.

Confirmation of the Golden Boy’s link to Latchford, who was charged in 2019 for orchestrating a vast network that trafficked Southeast Asian treasures, facilitated its return.

Latchford’s books, titled Khmer Bronzes and Khmer Gold document the statue’s discovery in Ban Yang Pongsadao village, located in Tambon Ta Chong, Lahan Sai district, Buriram province.

The two artefacts are now displayed on the 2nd floor of the Lop Buri Art Room at the Mahasurasinghanat Building within the National Museum Bangkok. The exhibition has already attracted significant visitor numbers.

A larger bronze statue, believed to represent King Surayavaraman I, was also brought from the Phimai National Museum to be exhibited alongside the Golden Boy and the kneeling lady. This statue, which resembles the Golden Boy, was found at the Prasat Sa Kamphaeng Yai excavation site in Sisaket.

The museum charges an entry fee of 30 baht for Thai citizens and 200 baht for foreign visitors. It operates from 9am to 4pm.

In related news, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York yielded to pressure, agreeing to return 16 Khmer-era ancient artefacts to Cambodia and Thailand.

Unravelling a tale of illicit trafficking, these masterpieces were linked to the late Latchford, a notorious dealer accused of dealing in ancient artefacts.

The Met, under scrutiny for years, succumbed to the Cambodian government’s demands, acknowledging that some of its prized possessions were allegedly taken illicitly during Cambodia’s tumultuous civil war. Among the 16 artworks being returned, 14 will find their way back to Cambodia, and two to Thailand, marking a historic moment in the museum’s history.

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Author: Mitch Connor