BANGKOK – Two sandstone lintels, which were smuggled out of Thailand over 50 years ago and have been on display at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, will be returned to Thailand soon.
Of the two lintels, one had originally been installed at Prasat Khao Lon historical sanctuary in Sa Kaeo province and the other at Prasat Nong Hong in Buri Ram province.
Thai and US authorities have worked together for several years seeking the return of the lintels. Director-General of the Department of Information and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Thanee Saengrat, said that a civil complaint was filed in federal court seeking the forfeiture of the two lintels. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in coordination with the Fine Arts Department under the Ministry of Culture, has supplied documentary evidence verifying the lintels’ origin in Thailand.
Legal clearance on the issue has been given. The United States and the City and County of San Francisco recently entered into a settlement agreement, in which San Francisco consents to the forfeiture of the Thai lintels to the United States government, which would then officially enable their return to Thailand.
These cultural items will be returned to Thailand upon the completion of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum’s deaccessioning process. Mr. Thanee said that the United States would inform Thailand about the schedule of the handover ceremony of the two lintels.
He thanked the US Attorney’s Office, the US Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the Thai Consul-General in Los Angeles, and the Fine Arts Department for their work to push for the success in securing the return of the two sandstone lintels. (NNT)