A colleague has drawn my attention to correspondence relating to the Koh Ker statue seized from Sotheby’s in 2011 and returned to the ownership of Cambodia in 2013. A letter dated 11 September 2013 reveals that the US Government obtained the original documentation of the statue’s 1975 sale at Spink from Christie’s. This letter seems to confirm – as I speculated two days ago – that Christie’s does indeed hold the original records of Spink’s Asian sales. Given Christie’s expressed concern about the lack of publicly-available documentation for helping the art market ‘vet antiquities’, it is surely an opportune moment for the company to help improve the situation by publishing the Spink archive, preferably on-line in collaboration with an appropriate organization or institution.
Meanwhile, Asia Week New York gathers pace with more seizures. On 15 March, HSI agents seized a Gandharan Bodhisattva head thought to have been looted in Pakistan that was ‘destined for an East Coast auction house’. The next day they seized an eighth-century Afghan statue from a Manhattan gallery.