UK returns ‘stolen’ 12th century Buddha statue 57 years later
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman handed over antique 12th century Bronze Idol of Buddha that was stolen from Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) Nalanda site museum in 1961 to Union Minister of State for Culture & Tourism (IC) Prahlad Singh Patel in New Delhi.
This ‘stolen’ 12th century Buddha was returned a month before (in August 2019) to the Indian High Commission by the London Metropolitan Police.
The Bronze statue of Buddha is documented as ‘Seated Buddha in Bhumisparsha Mudra’. It is of Ht. 6.5″ and belongs to Circa 12th Century AD. It was amongst the 19 bronze statues that were stolen from ASI Museum at Nalanda in August 1961.
The 12th century Bronze Idol of Buddha seated in the Bhumisparsha Mudra was stolen on 22 August 1961 from Nalanda Museum of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). After a gap of nearly 57 years, in February 2018, the stolen statue had resurfaced at an auction in Masstricht (a city in Netherlands) organized by a London based dealer Rossi & Rossi.
Then on receiving information Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officer in London (UK) contacted ASI, UK Customs and Art & Antique Unit of London Metropolitan Police. ASI also certified and confirmed the findings and provided documentary evidence (FIR which was filed in 1961) that the statue was stolen from Archaeological Museum, Nalanda.
Later on 15 August 2018, Scotland Yard handed over the Buddha statue to Indian High Commissioner to UK, YK Sinha to mark India’s 72nd Independence Day.