Rare Ancient Buddha Statue Valued at Rs 12.5 Crore Stolen in Audacious Heist from US Art Gallery

A rare Japanese bronze Buddha statue, valued at $1.5 million (approximately Rs 12.5 crore), was stolen from the Barakat Gallery in US.

Los Angeles: In a bold heist that shocked the art world, a rare Japanese bronze Buddha statue, valued at $1.5 million (approximately Rs 12.5 crore), was stolen from the Barakat Gallery in Los Angeles. The audacious theft took place in the early hours of September 18 at the Beverly Grove-based gallery, lasting less than 25 minutes, as confirmed by the Los Angeles Police Department.

The 250-pound (114 kg) bronze sculpture, a seated Buddha with a halo, was a masterpiece from Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1867). It was believed to have been commissioned for the centerpiece of a temple, showcasing intricate craftsmanship and historical significance.

CCTV footage captured the entire theft, revealing the suspect breaking into the gallery premises through a driveway gate. The thief skillfully utilized a dolly to transport the heavy statue into a waiting truck, leaving authorities astonished at how a lone individual managed such a feat given the statue’s considerable weight.

Describing the stolen artifact, the gallery’s description reads, ”This monumental bronze sculpture likely once dominated the interior of a temple…” The gallery owner, Fayez Barakat, expressed deep attachment to the sculpture, which was prominently displayed in the gallery’s outdoor space. He believed the theft was premeditated due to the sculpture’s prominent placement.

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”I don’t think there’s another like it on the market anywhere. It’s four feet tall, it’s hollow cast bronze and it’s a stunning piece. It’s really aesthetically arresting and it’s shocking to see something like this go missing,” said Paul Henderson, the gallery’s director, emphasizing the uniqueness of the stolen piece and the challenges the thief might face trying to sell it.

The Los Angeles Police Department is actively investigating the case, canvassing the vicinity for additional security camera footage and leads. The Barakat Gallery, with its international presence in London, Seoul, and Hong Kong, opened its Los Angeles location in 2017, making this incident a significant blow to the art community.

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