Architectural Digest photoshopped out images in a San Francisco mansion layout that hid what was thought to be stolen Cambodian relics, The Washington Post reported Monday.
According to the Post, the luxury magazine published a photo of a remodeled mansion in a January 2021 issue that had been altered to hide two ancient Khmer sculptures that the Cambodian government say could be stolen.
The photo of the $42 million mansion, owned by lawyer and author Sloan Lindemann Barnett and her husband, Roger Barnett, an executive at a nutritional supplements company, showcased two empty pedestals. However, another version of the image, found on the magazine’s website, revealed the pedestals weren’t actually bare but instead topped with two ancient Khmer sculptures.
The Cambodian government says the sculptures, which feature heads of gods and demons, match artifacts that are listed among the country’s 10 most important stolen relics, the Post learned.
The sculptures aren’t where this story ends, though, as the relics are reportedly a part of Lindemann Barnett’s billionaire parents’ larger collection. In 2008, the magazine highlighted the collection, owned by Frayda and the late George Lindemann, calling it “one of the greatest collections of Southeast Asian art in private hands.” According to The Post, the Cambodian government suspects that many of these relics might be stolen as well.
When contacted about the edited photo, Erin Kaplan, a spokesperson for the Condé Nast-owned publication, told the Post that the magazine published a photo without the relics due to “unresolved publication rights around select artworks.”
The residence, characterized as a Spanish Renaissance Revival palacio, has “been described, with good reason, as the most beautiful house in America,” according to the magazine.
The altered photo is a touchstone of a larger investigation into stolen artifacts and art traffickers conducted by The Post and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and Finance Uncovered, a journalism nonprofit.
The news comes days after the Getty museum announced that it would return three life-size terra-cotta figures to Italy after they were illegally excavated.