About André Malraux's Infamous Expedition to Banteay Srei

by Raoul Marc Jennar

The letter André Malraux sent to French Resident-General after being assigned to house-arrest for looting Banteay Srei temple


Publication: Cambodge Soir

Published: 1998

Author: Raoul Marc Jennar

Pages: 5

Language : French

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In December 1923, with a written recommendation signed by French Minister Albert Sarraut and in spite of serious reservations from George Groslier, the founder of Phnom Penh National Museum, André Malraux (3 Nov 1901, Paris — 23 Nov 1976, Creteil, France) and his wife, Clara, visits Banteay Srei and attempts to loot several statues from the temple.

This incident has been widely studied, for instance here or in Walter Langlois’ The Indochina Adventure (Pall Mall Press, London, 1966). In 1998, Belgian researcher Raoul-Marc Jennar discovered the letter Malraux, then under house-arrest at the Phnom Penh Manolis Hotel, addressed to the French Résident-Général, in order to have the case against him dismissed.

Tags: Banteay Srei, explorers, looting

About the Author


Raoul Marc Jennar

Raoul Marc Jennar (6 July 1946, Mont-sur-Marchienne, Belgium) is a researcher and consultant in international relations who has advised the Cambodian government during the post Khmer-Rouge transition period (19891999), and again since 2016 as Diplomatic Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. 

Both as a journalist and diplomatic adviser, Jennar pleaded for a stronger support from the West to the Cambodian reconstruction effort. After meeting with Prince Norodom Sihanouk and members of the FUNCINPEC in France, he visited refugee camps in Thailand during the fall of 1988 (and then again in 1991), and became diplomatic adviser to the International Forum of NGO in Cambodia until 1992. He also supervised the UNESCO Program ¨Culture of Peace in Cambodia¨ until 1999.

Meeting Prime Minister Hun Sen for the first time in April 1989, he was an observer at the first session of the Paris Conference three months later, and served as an international observer of the withdrawal of the Vietnamese troops (Phnom Penh, Battambang, Kompong Som, Bavet) in September 1989.

Back in Europe, Cambodia was still very much on his mind as his PhD in Political Science and Khmer Studies was titled The Contemporary Cambodian Borders (Paris, INALCO, 1998). Earlier, in 1994, Jennar had published his first book on that country, Les constitutions cambodgiennes (The Cambodian Constitutions). He also a consultant to the European Union Council on Cambodian political affairs. The territoriality issue remained high on his list, as he acted as an adviser to the Royal Government of Cambodia for borders issues and member of the Cambodia team on the Preah Vihear case from 2007 to 2016.

As an independent researcher and author, he has published several reference books about modern Cambodia, including Les clés du Cambodge (Maisonneuve & Larose, 1st edition 1995, with an expanded edition scheduled in 2023), Trente ans depuis Pol Pot: Le Cambodge de 1979 à 2009 (2010), Khieu Samphan et les Khmers rouges : Réponse à Maître Vergès (Demopolis, 2011). In 2009, he testified in the Duch case during the ECCC trial.

Founder of the association (now extinct) Les Amis belges d’André Malraux”, Raoul Jennar has also authored Comment Malraux est devenu Malraux (CAP BEAR2015).