The government will make efforts to bring back a 13th century sculpture, which is believed to have been stolen from a temple of Nepal in 1983, from the US.
New York Times reported on April 2 that prosecutors, in court papers, had accused a New York art dealer of selling three ancient sculptures that were stolen from temples in India and Nepal.
“The dealer, Nayef Homsi, who runs a gallery at East 75th Street in New York, is expected to be arrested in coming days, officials with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said in the court papers, according to the website DNAinfo,” New York Times said in its report.
Quoting the court documents, the newspaper reported that Homsi had sold the sculptures, worth about $500,000, between June 2012 and May 2013. The accusations were first reported by DNAinfo. According to New York Times, the most expensive of the artefacts is a 13th-century gilt bronze statue of a Buddhist deity that the court papers say was stolen in 1983 from a temple in Kathmandu and sold for $370,000.
According to DNAinfo, Homsi denied selling stolen artefacts and said that he did not know about a criminal investigation.
The court papers were filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on March 25.
Spokesperson for Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tara Prasad Pokhrel said the government would initiate the process to bring back the stolen Nepali artefact. He said Nepal would have to present evidence to show that the stolen sculpture belonged to Nepal. Earlier, Nepal had brought back some stolen artefacts from the US in 2013, said Pokhrel.
Since Nepal is a party to UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property–1970, bringing back stolen or illegally exported Nepali artefacts will not be a difficult process for Nepal. Director General of Department of Archaeology Bhesh Narayan Dahal said the department had records of stolen artefacts and if it got the authentic information about the 13th century deity, it would seek Interpol’s help to bring the item back to Nepal.
Chief Archaeology Officer Damodar Gautam, however, said the government lacked inventory of historical artefacts, documentation and their audio-visual data.
Dahal said the government had brought back stolen or illegally imported Nepali items of archaeological importance from foreign countries recently. The government, he added, brought back four stolen images from the US and one from Australia. He said the department was in the process of bringing back 18-20 artefacts from the UK and two images (of Uma Maheshwor and Bishnu) from France.