Photo-Illustration: Lined. Original photo: Douglas Friedman
Fashion is most cited for its Photoshop failures: airbrushed armpits, an extra appendage, and awkwardly widened thigh gaps are just a few examples. But the latest retouching incident to draw attention concerns the world of interior design – in this case, antique images stolen from Cambodia.
A recent Washington Job history examined the removal of Khmer relics from a Architectural Summary image of a San Francisco mansion. The missing artwork, Cambodian investigators say, could be stolen relics and part of a larger collection that could include some of the country’s 10 most looted artifacts. As investigators discovered, an image of the courtyard posted online in December 2020 and printed in January 2021 from the residence of billionaires Sloan Lindemann Barnett and Roger Barnett was identical to one that appeared on architect Peter’s website Marino until July – except for the removal of the sculptures. The Cambodian government believes the statues – which once belonged to Lindemann Barnett’s parents – have been looted from a sacred site and wants them returned. After Washington Job contacted Marino for comment, the image has been removed from his website. A Architectural Summary spokesperson told the Job that the sculptures were removed due to “unresolved publishing rights around selected artwork”. (Condé Nast, Architectural SummaryCurbed’s editor, did not return Curbed’s requests for comment.)
The practice of digitally removing objects from interior images is common. Designers and architects are asking photographers to remove light switches and furniture, alter the landscape visible through windows, and clean up text from books, among many other tweaks. People who let design magazines into their residences frequently request that certain valuables, personal items, or house numbers not appear due to privacy concerns. and publications will remove images of works of art belonging to galleries, museums or other cultural institutions. But in this case, the dispute appears to be less about publication rights and more about disputed ownership.
Cambodian investigators have been poring over the Lindemann family’s art collection for some time, even before they learned of the altered photo. The same statues appeared in a 2008 Architectural Summary story about the $68.5 million family home in Palm Beach, which featured about $40 million worth of Khmer antiques. (The previous article described the collection as “one of Southeast Asia’s largest art collections in private hands.”) Two people working on the investigation told the Washington Job that it is ongoing, and although the Lindeman family members have not been charged with wrongdoing, they would not return the coins to Cambodia.