In a significant development for the cultural heritage of Nepal, the Embassy of Nepal has successfully repatriated two stolen statues to the Department of Archaeology of the Government of Nepal. The statues of Nritya Devi, a 10th century wooden statue, and a standing stone statue of Lord Buddha, dating back to the 8th century, were returned to Nepal by the Embassy.
The statue of Nritya Devi was returned to the Embassy by a private collector, while the statue of Lord Buddha was returned by Hollywood producer Mr. Michael Phillips, who handed it over to Honorary Consul General of Nepal in San Diego Mr. Rishi Punnakhar Dhakal in Los Angeles on April 12, 2023. Mr. Dhakal sponsored the shipping of both the statues to Nepal.
These statues were stolen from Nepal in the 1970s and ended up with private collectors after passing through various hands. The statue of Nritya Devi was originally located at Itum Bahal, Lalitpur, and the statue of Lord Buddha was from Machhindra Bahal, Bugmati, Lalitpur.
The Embassy of Nepal expressed its gratitude to Mr. Michael Phillips for returning the standing stone statue of Lord Buddha to the Government of Nepal, and Honorary Consul General Mr. Rishi Punnakhar Dhakal for sponsoring the shipping of the statues. The Embassy has been actively engaged with relevant agencies of the Government of Nepal, the United States, art researchers, heritage recovery campaigners, media, and private individuals to recover and repatriate the lost and stolen heritages of Nepal.
This successful repatriation of the two statues is part of the Embassy’s efforts to recover Nepal’s lost and stolen cultural heritage. Over the past year, the Embassy has been able to send a total of seven artifacts to Nepal. This development will go a long way in preserving the cultural heritage of Nepal and safeguarding it for future generations.