SOAS University of London

Ashley Thompson cited in Bloomberg article on Cambodian art looting

29 June 2022

Ashley Thompson

Professor Ashley Thompson, Hiram W. Woodward Chair in Southeast Asian Art at SOAS, has been cited in a groundbreaking news article by award-winning reporter and editor for Bloomberg Businessweek Matthew Campbell, entitled 'An Art Crime For the Ages'. Many months in the making, this multimedia article details investigations uncovering the systematic looting of Cambodian ritual artifacts for sale on the international art market - in some cases for seven-figure sums - and the continued efforts by the United States Department of Homeland Security and Cambodian government to repatriate as many of the ancient and spiritually significant sculptures as possible. 

One of the key operators in the illicit trafficking of many of these items was Bangkok-based British businessman named Douglas Latchford, the world’s foremost dealer of Cambodian antiquities in the latter half of the 20th Century and a central figure in what Campbell describes as "one of the most complex art market investigations ever undertaken".

Speaking of Latchford, who was facing extradition to the US to face charges for selling looted Cambodian antiquities on the international art market before he died from organ failure in August 2020, Professor Thompson is quoted in an interview as saying "He was one of the principal organizers of the mass looting of Cambodia in the second half of the 20th century.” To read the full Bloomberg Businessweek feature, click here.