Critics called the books “groundbreaking” and “filled with new interpretations.” Hab Touch, a Cambodian cultural official, said the Latchford books “introduced a number of remarkable Khmer sculptures which have been hidden from the world for years.”
But it was hard not to notice that the books were filled as well with hundreds of sumptuous photos of Khmer relics, many far superior to those on display in Cambodia’s museums. Mr. Latchford said many of the items were his own or held by anonymous foreign collectors.
Asked by The Times where such exquisite works had originated, Mr. Latchford replied, “the ground.” He then added: “When I buy a piece, on principle, I thoroughly research it. I certainly don’t want to buy a piece that has been stolen or anything.”
In a 2010 interview with The Bangkok Post, he said: “Most of the pieces I have come across in the past years have been excavated, or dug up. You know, there is a farmer in the field who digs something up, and he probably thinks, ‘If I take it to Bangkok or Singapore or a middle man, I can get $100 instead of getting $10.’”
By 2012, Mr. Latchford said, he had amassed more than 100 major Khmer artifacts, which were kept in his London and Bangkok residences; many others, he said, had been sold or donated to museums and collectors. His London apartment was crowded with sinuous bronze dancing figures and gold-adorned stone deities dating to the 7th century.
When he wasn’t trading in Khmer relics, Mr. Latchford was a devotee of bodybuilding, a popular sport in Thailand, and spent freely promoting competitions, mentoring athletes and funding training facilities. From 2016 until his death, he was honorary president of the Thai Bodybuilding Association. He also supported a Cambodian orphanage, Sunrise Cambodia.