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Denver Art Museum cuts ties with longtime volunteer linked to indicted arts dealer

Denver Art Museum said it learned that Emma Bunker worked with an indicted art dealer to mislead the museum into acquiring looted and illegally trafficked art.

DENVER — The Denver Art Museum (DAM) on Thursday announced that it removed the name of a longtime trustee and volunteer from its Arts of Asia gallery following evidence that she had ties to an indicted art dealer.

The gallery had been named in honor of Emma Bunker, but the Board of Trustees approved the removal of her name after learning of evidence that Bunker, worked with indicted art dealer Douglas Latchford to mislead the museum into acquiring looted and illegally trafficked works of art.

The museum has also returned financial gifts it received in support of the DAM’s capital campaign to the Bunker family. The actions followed a lengthy investigation by the Denver Post.

Latchford was indicted by U.S. officials in 2019 for selling and trafficking looted artworks from countries including Cambodia and Thailand. In a release, DAM said they contacted Cambodian officials in 2019 about works in its collection associated with Latchford. Ultimately those artworks were returned to their countries of origin, the museum said.

Credit: AP
This photo released by the Union Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC), shows jewelry on display at a room of Latchford family in London on Feb. 14, 2023. A spectacular collection of centuries-old Cambodian jewelry has been returned to the Southeast Asian country, the latest treasures to be retrieved from the estate of well-known antiquities collector and dealer Douglas Latchford, who was accused of buying and selling looted artifacts. (Union Youth Federations of Cambodia via AP)

Bunker and her family donated more than 200 art objects in areas across the museum including textiles and modern and contemporary art over the last 60 years, according to the museum. About 40 of the gifts are considered antiquities, and the museum is working with U.S. authorities to conduct research into the ownership histories.

The museum said determining the origin of objects connected to Bunker are a top priority.



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