A luxury magazine has altered photos of stolen Cambodian artifacts

A shiny homepage can be key evidence in recovering lost relics. Photos of this $42 million mansion in San Francisco have become of gre...


A shiny homepage can be key evidence in recovering lost relics.

Photos of this $42 million mansion in San Francisco have become of great interest to the Cambodian government – at least, unedited photos of it, reports the Washington Post.

The January 2021 issue of Architectural Digest featured a series of photos of the lavish California home of author Sloane Lindemann Barnett and her husband, nutritional supplement company executive Roger Barnett.

Images of the property have documented its grandeur, from expansive bay views to walls paneled in white onyx, but upon close inspection appear to have removed a key feature in the post: a series of ancient Khmer carvings placed on pedestals in the two-story courtyard, which the Cambodian government says match those stolen from one of the country’s sacred sites years ago.

A separate photo of the courtyard previously posted on the website of architect Peter Marino (who remodeled the 17,000-square-foot estate in 2011 after the Barnetts bought it), however, shows the same impressive enclosure but with a set of Khmer god and demon heads atop the pedestals.

In the Architectural Digest images, the plinths appear empty and experts say the images appear to have been airbrushed.

A screenshot of the image that was posted to Architectural Digest.
A screenshot of the image that was posted to Architectural Digest.
Douglas Friedman/Screenshot obtained by The Washington Post
architectural summary of cambodian relics
A screenshot of another image of the courtyard in which the statues are present on the pedestals.
Douglas Friedman/Screenshot obtained by The Washington Post

“There are small but constant signs of airbrushing around the leaves of the plant in which small parts of the plant have been airbrushed with the statues,” said visual forensics expert Hany Farid of the ‘University of California, Berkeley to the Washington Post. Images of the architectural summary. “It seems highly unlikely that two photos would be taken in succession without anything else moving throughout the room.”

According to a spokesperson for Architectural Digest, the magazine’s images do not show the relics due to “unresolved publishing rights regarding certain works of art,” a representative told The Washington Post, declining to comment further.

Barnett and Lindemann did not immediately return the Post’s request for comment, nor did they return the Washington Post’s emails and phone messages.

architectural summary of cambodian relics
U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Joseph A. Mussomeli (left) offers sandstone face apsara statue to Him Chhem (right), Deputy Minister of Culture and Fine Arts at the National Museum in Phnom Penh , July 30, 2007, at a repatriation ceremony for Khmer antiquities seized in the United States.
AFP via Getty Images
architectural summary of cambodian relics
The statues taken from the magazine photos are Khmer relics. Pictured here is the Angkor Conservation, which houses more than 6,000 artifacts rescued from looters or preemptively taken from remote ruins; it has been dubbed the largest Khmer museum in the world.
Light Rocket via Getty Images

“Some of these statues are of enormous historical and cultural significance to Cambodia and should be repatriated as soon as possible,” Cambodian Minister of Culture Phoeurng Sackona told the publication, referring to both the statues of the Barnetts and the Khmer Artifacts Collection. by Sloan’s billionaire parents, Frayda and the late George Lindemann.

“It’s not just art,” adds archaeologist Sopheap Meas of the relics. “We believe that each of them contains the souls of our ancestors.”

The US Department of Homeland Security has reportedly contacted the family – who have not been charged with wrongdoing related to the artifacts – regarding the collection, but there is no indication they plan to return the statues, The Washington Post reported. , according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

The situation points to a continuing problem in the art world, where wealthy collectors buy pieces without knowing or caring how they were acquired, then are less eager to return them when it is revealed that they were taken illegally.

“I tell my clients, even if you see something really beautiful, if there’s not enough information, walk away,” said art and antique theft expert Jim McAndrew. and former senior special agent for the Department of Homeland Security, at The Washington Post. he consults art dealer clients on this subject. If they don’t leave, then later find out their purchase was stolen, “Give it back,” he advises.

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Newsrust - US Top News: A luxury magazine has altered photos of stolen Cambodian artifacts
A luxury magazine has altered photos of stolen Cambodian artifacts
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