Metropolitan Opera Board President Allegedly Kept Stolen Cambodian Relics

By Francisco Salazar

According to the Art Newspaper, “one of the shots included in the Architectural Digest spread in January 2021 showed a two-storey central courtyard populated by towering palms and, on one side, several empty plinths.”

Following an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), it appeared the photograph had been doctored and discovered another version of the image online, which shows several stone artifacts of demon and god heads standing on the same plinths.

According to the ICIJ, experts confirmed that the sculptures had indeed been airbrushed and a spokesperson for Architectural Digest said that “the magazine published the image without the relics because of unresolved publication rights around select artworks.”

According to the Art Newspaper, the sculptures that were doctored out of the picture are just a few of the relics that were stolen. The relics in the San Francisco home come from a larger collection of Khmer relics held by Lindemann Barnett’s billionaire parents, Frayda, the Metropolitan Opera Board President, and the late George Lindemann. The Washington Post reports that “The parents’ collection appeared in an earlier Architectural Digest spread, in 2008, described as ‘one of the greatest collections of Southeast Asian art in private hands.’ Those photos show their Palm Beach, Fla., home crowded with Khmer antiquities, many of which the Cambodian government suspects were looted.” The government states that “two of the relics appear to match artifacts that rank among the country’s 10 most important stolen relics.”

In recent years, Agents from the antiquities unit at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have contacted the Lindemann family about the Khmer collection but according to an anonymous source, the family has no intention of returning the relics.

Neither Lindemann Barnett nor her husband Rodger Barnett responded to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists nor to the Art Newspaper. Lindemann Barnett’s mother Frayda Lindemann also did not respond to requests for comment.

At this time the Lindemann family has not been accused of any wrongdoing.