Thursday, 5 May 2022

Who's Watching the UK Antiquities Market?


Who is watching the internet sales sites in the UK? Answer, nobody. Not so everywhere though: Takumi Fujikawa and Kotaro Chigira, Buddhist statue listed on Yahoo auction site very similar to item stolen from Kyoto temple May 2, 2022 An eighteenth century Buddhist wooden statue 50cm tall stolen in June 2021 from Ryuhonji temple in central Kyoto Japan was put up for sale on an online auction site eleven months from the theft.
The statue was offered for sale by an antique dealer in southwest Japan's Oita Prefecture. Kyoto Prefectural Police are investigating this as a case of theft and looking into the circumstances surrounding the sale. [...] On May 1, an antique dealer from the Oita Prefecture city of Yufu offered a Buddhist statue for 1,000 yen (about $7) on Yahoo Japan Corp.'s auction site. In the description field, the seller stated that the statue was in "good condition," in addition to other details such as "47 centimetres high." By the morning of May 2, nine bids had been received, with the highest one coming in at 175,000 yen (about $1,300). The sale was cancelled around noon on May 2. A person who viewed the auction site contacted the temple asking if it was the stolen statue, and this led the temple and the prefectural police to learn of the situation. [...]
It is unclear where the sales offer stated the temple statue had come from and how it came onto the market in the first place. With many thousands of ancient artefacts sold online in the UK, one wonders how many stolen items slip under the radar every day simply because nobody is keeping a watch.

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