How does Cambodia's most famous temple statue end up in Sotheby's auction catalog? This film tells the story of a spectacular case of art robbery. We follow the route of an iconic warrior sculpture looted from a Khmer temple to a posh auction house in New York. An investigative journey into the murky world of the antiques trade.
This story reveals the workings of the international antiques mafia. And it raises questions about the moral responsibility of museums and the credibility of supposedly reputable auction houses. The court case in New York is expected to set a precedent for the regulation of the trade in antiquities and artifacts.
The Stolen Warriors
The Grand Masters of the Chauvet Cave
Late 2014: Layau, near Troyes in French Champagne, a team of archeologists have brought to light an ancient necropolis in which they made an incredible discovery: under an enormous tumulus, in a 14 meter squared funeral chamber, lay a skeleton adorned of beautiful jewels. Its body surrounded with luxurious objects such as a cart and a set of dishes containing magnificent Greek and Etruscan pieces.
The tomb of this wealthy Celt, who died during the 5th century, now referred to as “the prince of Lavau”, constitutes one of the most important discoveries of European archeology of recent years.
The Enigma of the Celtic Tomb
A team of artists, visual artists and prehistorians was appointed to oversee the creation of the Pont d’Arc Cavern, a reproduction of the Chauvet Cave.
The film follows the Catalan painter Miquel Barcelo as he observes and comments on the work of the artists as they create the reproductions. The paintings and drawings of the Chauvet cave – made thirty six thousand years ago and discovered twenty years ago in the south of France – are the oldest human artistic expression to date. Their strength and modernity changed radically all the ideas we had on prehistorical art.