Returned to India after being sold at Sotheby’s, the stolen Yogini goddess statue

The stolen Yogini statue, once sold at the Sotheby’s auction house in London, will be returned to the High Commission of India’s office and returned home. Ancient statues depict the Indian goat-headed god of yogini origin. According to professor and curator Vidia Dehezia’s book, Yogini’s Cults and Temples: Tantric Traditions, its pedigree dates back to the countryside and tribal villages of India.

It was set up in October 2021 by Christopher Marinello, a lawyer and founder at Art Recovery International, which specializes in the recovery of stolen, looted, and lost works of art. Marinello said he came across a statue when a British widow, who refused to reveal his identity, asked his company to help sell the contents of her house, including the appearance of Yogini. rice field.

“This item has a red flag,” Marinello told CNN.

Marinello said the widow “did not know” and was shocked by the previously stolen statue, but was supportive when she knew.

Marinello then contacted Vijay Kumar, co-founder of the India Pride Project, a non-profit organization specializing in the recovery of looted cultural properties across India. “I started this basically as a non-profit organization and raised awareness of the rampant looting of cultural properties,” Kumar told CNN.

Kumar confirms Marinello’s claim that the statue was stolen, and the goat’s head statue is from a larger collection of yogini statues that disappeared from the village of Lohari in Uttar Pradesh, India, around 1978-1982. Said it was part.

The statue of a goat’s head appears in a Dehezian book, she writes: The block that once formed the wall of Yogini Temple.

“Villagers reports that in recent years many images have been carried away to trucks by destroyers. This is a very rare icon,” Kumar said.

He said he first saw a picture of the Yogini statue in Peter Watson’s book Sotheby’s: Inside Story. It was known to have been looted from the shrine.

As a result of further investigation, Kumar states that the statue was shown in the Sotheby’s catalog in 1988 for sale at an auction price of up to $ 19,849 (£ 15,000). “She was very poorly preserved, but she was able to adapt to it,” said Kumar, who spoke of the statue.

“I understand that we have withdrawn from selling Sotheby’s, but it has never been investigated,” Marinello told CNN, and he and Kumar were at the High Commission of India, the Indian Archaeological Research Department, and the Revenue Information Department. The Metropolitan Police Department in London allows the statue to be returned.

“We contacted Vijay and Christopher a few months ago, after which the High Commissioner of India was the Deputy High Commissioner for the High Commissioner of India to do everything in his power to the United Kingdom and obtain the procedure. Did his best to pursue the return of Yogini. Jaspreet Singh Sukhija, First Trade Secretary of the High Commissioner of India, told CNN in a statement.

“We are now in the final stages of return, and soon Yogini will be handed over to the High Commission of India’s office in London and sent to a legitimate place in India. We also thank India’s Department of Revenue Intelligence. I want to express my intention. “

In a statement to CNN, Sotheby’s did not specifically mention the statue, but said it worked at the highest standards. “This episode is related to something allegedly happened almost a quarter of a century ago. Sotheby’s adheres to the highest standards in the industry and is supported by a world-class compliance team. The compliance team is external. We will work closely with the authorities to ensure the highest level of business integrity, “the company said.

“We want them to be their gods.”

Most of Marinello’s job is to work with art insurance companies and clients to find stolen goods, but he told CNN that he is investing in the Pro Bono case as well. “What drives me is the loss of cultural heritage and the communities, churches and temples that use these objects to help connect with God,” he said.

“In such cases, when something is looted from the temple, it means so much for the villagers and those who worship this object,” he added. Founded in 2013, the estimated value is close to about $ 592 million (£ 400 million).

He said his company continues to receive art theft cases every day. “Criminals are trying to take and sell things that aren’t theirs. People, collectors, and art dealers do proper due diligence before dealing with such things, and they never enter the market. There is no way for criminals to sell these illegal goods, “Marinello said.

“This is why I work with organizations like the India Pride Project, because these are not sculptures, but dealers and auction houses for profit. These are gods. These are people. Helps them worship their gods. No monetary value can be placed on them. “

Talking about objects such as yogini statues, Kumar tells CNN: They are intended to be the object of ritual worship and we consider them to be accidental art. “So we want them to be their gods,” he added.

CNN asked the Metropolitan Police Department for comment.

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Returned to India after being sold at Sotheby’s, the stolen Yogini goddess statue

Source link Returned to India after being sold at Sotheby’s, the stolen Yogini goddess statue

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