Thursday 6 September 2018

The Market for Portablised Buddhist Statues is Larger and More Lucrative.

Sands of Time
The market for stolen Buddhist statues and other cultural assets has become larger and more lucrative. The hot items are traded at high prices, making them much more difficult and expensive to retrieve by the original owners, who already face legal time limits on regaining their goods. “There is an unlimited demand for Buddhist statues--the most popular type of antique,”
(The Ashari Shimbun, 'Market for stolen Buddhist statues widens; rightful owners at a loss Ashari Shimbun September 7, 2018)

There are at the moment 99,737 'Buddhas' in 'Antiques' on eBay, and 182 in the section 'antiquities' within that. Over 50 of the latter are additionally labelled 'Gandhara' - though in all cartegories the objects offered are faux/pseudo -antiquities and fakes as is usual on eBay. Often the items offered are just fragments detached from larger items, in order to makle them more portable. Heads are knocked off statues and reliefs smashed into smaller pieces and detached from walls.
Vignette: Seen on eBay. This knocked off head is being sold by US dealer, no information on how it entered market, who was its original owner and how they parted with it, or on the existence of available paperwork supporting the word-of-mouth partial collecting history ("Private NY collection, acquired in Afghanistan in the 1960s, thereafter private Boston collection acquired around 2000"). One presumes the dealer (a founder member of the Washington-based  ADCAEA) also can show paperwork confirming that the provisions on private possession, registration and export of antiquities in the 1958 Afghan legislation were fully respected - can she? 

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