George Lindemann Family Returned Looted Items to Cambodia

George Lindemann Billionaire Family Voluntarily Returned $20 Million Worth of Looted Antiquities to Cambodia.

Sep 14, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
George Lindermann
George Lindemann with his family. Via Architectual Digest.



George Lindemann relatives decided on a voluntary basis to return 33 artifacts worth $20 million to Cambodia. Cambodian government and investigators started their search for looted artworks, many years ago, but made a breakthrough in 2008 with a photo spread in ‘Architectural Digest’. The country wants its historical heritage back, and the family decided to give it back.


George Lindemann Left the Artifacts to His Successors

Three of the Angkor Thom Heads
Three of the Angkor Thom Heads. Photo courtesy of United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York.


Cambodian investigators spotted the artifacts in his home, and that was a primary breakthrough. The parties also scheduled a festive ceremony to formally mark the handover. “The return sets an excellent and proper example for other museums and private collectors to follow”, Cambodia’s culture minister, Phoeurng Sackona said. Among the works of art there are also divine sculptures that used to decorate religious temples and sanctuaries.


Many belong to the Khmer Empire going 1,000 years back. It’s estimated that Lindemann, who got the wealth in oil and gas, invested no less than $20 million over many years buying up these artefacts. The items transferred to Lindemann’s successors upon his death in 2018 at the age of 82.


George Lindemann
George and Frayda Lindemann. Photo by Ben Gabbe, ©Patrick McMullan.


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Last year there was a huge scandal  in connection with this sculptures. As data shows, the  $42 million worth property of his daughter, Sloan Lindemann, had three plundered Cambodian marble figures photo-shopped out of them. This also appeared in Achitectual Digest photos from two years ago. There were also many speculations to this case. Many said the priceless objects may have been taken out of the pictures in 2022 since it was known at that point that they had been plundered.


Latchford Tricked Lindemanns?

Douglas Latchford
Cambodian deputy Prime Minister Sok An shakes hands with British Khmer art collector Douglas Latchford. Photo by Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP via Getty Images.


The notorious trader of illegal items, Douglas Latchford, clearly mentions the skulls in emails and acknowledges that “these were all stolen”. No evidence suggests that the Lindemanns knew about this. A significant research into the Lindemann trove of Cambodian artefacts had led to discoveries such as these. The collection first hit the public in 2008, in Architectural Digest feature.


U.S. representatives operating as agents of the Cambodian government executed this. In-depth information shared by ex-looters helped the investigators trace down goods carried out of Cambodia from isolated sanctuaries. This occurred frequently before academics could document it. In this instance, a dealer of treasures by the name of “Jungle Cat” was crucial in locating artworks that had come into the Lindemann portfolio through Latchford.


Douglas Latchford
Two objects from Douglas Latchford’s collection being repatriated to Cambodia. courtesy of the Royal Government of Cambodia.


A minimum of two stolen Cambodian sculptures that Lindemann bought and donated to the Metropolitan Museum in New York prevent his family from getting them back. According to reports, evidence provided by the former looter Toek Tik has led Cambodian officials to assume that the museum currently houses at least 33 looted items.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.