Saturday, 3 January 2015

Australia: NGA to Return Kushan Sculpture to India

Following on from the earlier repatriations of an 11th century Shiva Nataraja and Ardhanariswara,  Australia has informed Indian authorities that it will soon return second century BC Kushan red sandstone sculpture of Buddha, realizing that it had been stolen from an archaeological site in the Mathura region of Uttar Pradesh, India ('National Gallery of Australia 'has a Buddha scandal'...' PACHI Tuesday, 4 November 2014). As reported by Sachin Parashar ('Australia to return centuries-old stolen Buddha statue to India' Times of India, Jan 1, 2015):
According to a report in The Australian earlier this year, the artifact was purchased by billionaire philanthropist Ros Packer for NGA. After Indian authorities took up the issue with Australia, NGA launched a probe into how the statue was bought from a New York antiquities dealer and found that the dealer had tricked Australian authorities into believing that the red sandstone marvel had been purchased from a British collector in Hong Kong. The investigations revealed that the New York based dealer had travelled to India and acquired two Kushan Buddhas from a trafficker. 
Manhattan dealer Nancy Wiener (a second-generation Asian art seller who specialises in Indian, Southeast Asian and Himalayan works of art) is reported to have been the dealer who sold the artefact to the Australian museum. She appears not to have issued any statement supporting the collecting history with which it reportedly came. A shame, it would be nice to hear her side of the story.

 Vignette: the (now not) contested Buddha.

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