Cambodian officials proved that the Kneeling Attendants statues, donated to the Met in four pieces as separate gifts between 1987 and 1992, had been smuggled out of a remote jungle temple in Siem Reap province near Angkor Wat around the time of the country’s civil war in the 1970s.
Auction house Sotheby’s had hoped to sell another object, a huge statue of the warrior Duryodhana that was once part of the temple group, for 3 million dollars in 2011 before Cambodia said it was looted.
"We are quite optimistic that the statue of Duryodhana will be returned as well," Ek Tha said.
Six statues from the temple group have been traced to the United States. The Met is the first museum to repatriate any of the pieces.