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Image: Met Police

Stolen 12th century Buddha statue to be returned to India after 57 years

The Buddha is one of 14 statues stolen in 1961 from a museum in India.
Aug 15th 2018, 8:00 AM 11,299 5

A 12TH CENTURY Buddha statue stolen from India 57 years ago is to be returned to the Indian High Commissioner by the Met Police.

The Buddha, a bronze statue with silver inlay, is one of 14 statues stolen in 1961 from the Archaeological Survey of India site museum in Nalanda in the eastern part of India.

The statue changed hands several times before eventually being delivered to a London dealer for sale.

Once the dealer and the owner were made aware that the Buddha was the same one that had been stolen from India, they co-operated fully with the Met’s Art and Antiques Unit and agreed for the piece to be returned to India.

The statue was identified at a trade fair in March 2018 by Lynda Albertson of Association for Research into Crimes Against Art and Vijay Kumar from the India Pride Project, who then alerted the police.

Detective Chief Inspector Sheila Stewart, who will be accompanied by officials from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, will hand over the statue to the Indian High Commissioner YK Sinha during a ceremony today at 10am. This coincides with India’s Independence Day celebrations.

“The Art and Antiques Unit was founded 50 years ago and is one of the oldest specialist units in the Metropolitan Police Service. The unit has a long history of reuniting owners with their stolen property,” Detective Constable Sophie Hayes, of the Met’s Art and Antique Unit said.

We are delighted to be able to facilitate the return of this important piece of cultural heritage to India.

“We have established there was no criminality by the owner or the dealer who was offering it for sale,” he said.

“This case has been a true example of co-operation between law enforcement, the trade and scholars. Particular credit must go to the eagle-eyed information piece of cultural heritage to India.”

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Hayley Halpin

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