A Lord hanuman idol, stolen in 2012 from Tamil Nadu and smuggled abroad will be retuned to India, India’s Ministry of Culture announced on Wednesday.
The 14th-15th century statue, belonging to the Vijayanagar period, was discovered with the private buyer in Australia recently. The idol was auctioned for $37,500 to the Australian buyer by Chrisitie’s. According to sources, neither the New York-based auction house nor the buyer were unaware of the statue’s stolen origins. It was returned to Indian High Commissioner Manpreet Vohra in Canberra by Australian Chargé d’Affaires Michael Goldman on Tuesday.
“500 year old Lord Hanuman bronze idol stolen from Tamil Nadu temple, to be repatriated back to 🇮🇳 The stolen idol retrieved by US Homeland Security was handed over to @HCICanberra by US CDA.”, the ministry announced via their Twitter handle.
An official in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is the custodian of such artefacts until they are handed back to their home state, said: “This Anjaneyar (Hanuman) idol was burgled along with Sri Devi idol and Boodevi idol from the Varadharaja Perumal temple in Vellur village, Ariyalur, on April 9, 2012.” In March 2014, according to ASI, this idol was auctioned to a buyer in Australia. Upon discovery and consequent investigation, it was found to be the same idol that was stolen from India.
The Indian government has retrieved more than 200 artefacts, mainly statues, in the last seven years.