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Country of Origin: Thailand
Museum: Denver Art Museum; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; various

“The U.S. government is investigating three Thai pieces in Denver’s museum, including two Prakhon Chai statues and another relic from Bunker, as the Southeast Asian nation moves to reclaim its looted history.

“Anything that comes from Prakhon Chai, anything that comes from Plai Bat II, is illegal with clearly no provenance,” said Tanongsak Hanwong, an archaeologist and member of Thailand’s committee on repatriation of stolen artifacts, through an interpreter. “There is not a single Prakhon Chai statue that is on display in Thai museums. These pieces are all in U.S. museums and other museums around the world.”…

…Bunker’s role in what’s now known as the Prakhon Chai hoard is also deeply suspicious, art crime experts say, given her close association with Latchford and her history of using articles and books to validate his stolen relics.

She wrote multiple articles on the subject, including pegging the Thai treasures to their precise location at the Plai Bat II temple when everyone believed they had come from Prakhon Chai, a nearby region. Bunker, who died last year in Denver at 90, and her husband also owned at least one of these bronzes, which the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art says sits in its collection in Washington, D.C.” – The Denver Post


1 December 2022: “A Met spokesperson declined to answer questions from The Post, including whether U.S. investigators had been in touch with museum officials about the Prakhon Chai pieces.

None of the museums contacted for this story — aside from the Denver Art Museum — said they had been in touch with American or Thai authorities.

An Asian Art Museum spokesman said three of the museum’s four pieces on Thailand’s repatriation list had been purchased from Spink and added to the museum’s collection in the mid-1960s. The Asia Society acquired one piece from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Collection.

None of the Prakohn Chai statues, however, are in Thailand’s museums. And that’s what motivates Hanwong and others to push for their return.

Last year, with the help of American authorities, the country retrieved two 1,000-year-old sandstone lintels from the Asian Art Museum that had been stolen a half-century ago. One is now prominently displayed in a gallery next to the Phanom Rung temple in northeast Thailand.” – The Denver Post