PHNOM PENH, May 8 (Xinhua) -- The New York-based Sotheby's has delivered the 10th century sandstone statue of a Hindu warrior Duryodhana to Cambodia after a two-year legal battle was ended in December last year, said a press statement from the Cambodian Council of Ministers Thursday.
Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet Minister Sok An made a special visit to the United States of America to receive the ancient statue of Duryodhana Wednesday afternoon in New York city, the statement said.
"This visit stresses the importance of the policy of the Royal Government of Cambodia to recover looted Khmer ancient artifacts," it said.
The Duryodhana statue, valued at more than 2 million U.S. dollars, was stolen in the 1970s in the Prasat Chen monument of Koh Ker temple complex, a remote archaeological site in northern Cambodia, which had been the target of widespread looting during Cambodia's two-decade civil war, which began in the late 1960s.
In March 2011, Sotheby's placed the piece on the cover of its auction catalogue for Asia Week. The dispute over the statue started since then when the Cambodian government asked Sotheby's to remove it from the auction list.
French School of Asian Studies' research team on Koh Ker definitely helped to demonstrate Cambodia's rights to the statue of Duryodhana thanks to the statue's pedestals found at the Prasat Chen monument in Koh Ker temple of Cambodia.
In April 2012, the United States Attorney filed a court action in Federal Court seeking forfeiture of the statue and handing back to Cambodia.
The court process lasted until December 2013 before Sotheby's decided to settle the case by agreeing to return the statue of Duryodhana to Cambodia.
"Cambodia wishes to thank the U.S. for its commitment to preserve cultural heritage of humanities and its strong willingness to promote the friendship and cooperation between the two countries," the statement said, appealing to other museums and art collectors around the world to follow the example of returning plundered treasures to their rightful owners as part of the worldwide campaign for the protection of cultural heritage.
In June last year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York returned two 10th century stone statues of "Kneeling Attendants" to Cambodia after nearly 20 years on public display in the Met. The two statues were illicitly removed from the same temple at the time of Cambodia's civil war in the 1970s.