Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. has announced the return of a pair of antique statues of Buddha valued at approximately $66,000 to Sri Lanka.
The pair of statues were seized pursuant to the D.A.’s Office’s investigation of Subhash Kapoor. The statutes date back to the 18th Century C.E. and measure approximately 14 inches in height.
The antiquities were returned during a repatriation ceremony attended by Permanent Representative or Sri Lanka to the UN, Ambassador Mohan Pieris and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) Deputy Special Agent-in-Charge Erik Rosenblatt.
“This remarkable pair was part of the collection of thousands of looted and stolen antiquities that my Office’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit and our partners at Homeland Security Investigations seized from Subhash Kapoor,” said District Attorney Vance.
Kapoor and his co-conspirators allegedly trafficked millions of dollars’ worth of ancient relics with abandon for many years.
“We have filed charges and extradition paperwork to ensure Mr. Kapoor will face justice for these crimes of culture. While we await his return to Manhattan, we are incredibly pleased to be able to repatriate these beautiful pieces to their rightful owners – the people of Sri Lanka,” the Manhattan District Attorney said.
Homeland Security Investigations New York Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said that preserving the world’s cultural heritage is and will continue to be a priority for Homeland Security Investigations.
He said the pieces repatriated have a significant monetary value, but these pieces are invaluable to the people of Sri Lanka.
“It is an honor for HSI and our law enforcement partners to collaborate with our fellow nations to return artifacts to their rightful home.”
“We are grateful for the tireless work of the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr, his staff, the members of the Antiquities Trafficking Unit led by Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos and officers of the Homeland Security Investigations for recovering and restoring for the first time in the US, two historically valuable artifacts of the Lord Buddha dating to the 18th Century, as part of Sri Lanka’s rich religious and cultural heritage,” said Ambassador Mohan Pieris.
For many years, the Manhattan D.A.’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit, along with law enforcement partners at HSI, has been investigating Kapoor and his co-conspirators for the illegal looting, exportation, and sale of ancient art from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, Indonesia, and other nations. (Colombo Gazette)