A new act of art crime was committed in Los Angeles on an early Monday morning. A surprisingly smooth criminal stole a Buddha statue from one of the Barakat Gallery locations in LA. The massive piece was around 4 feet tall and weighed about 250 pounds, which makes the fact that it was stolen by one person especially puzzling. The antique sculpture was estimated at around $1.5 million worth.
A Bronze Buddha Worth $1.5 Million Was Stolen from a Gallery
On September 18, 2023, a bronze Buddha statue was stolen from the Barakat Gallery, which specializes in ancient art. The piece was quite heavy and large, but the criminal managed to finish the job in around 25 minutes and escape. According to CCTV footage, the person arrived at the gallery location at La Cienega Boulevard in a truck at 2:30am. They got out of the vehicle, broke the gate to the gallery’s driveway, and used a moving dolly to move the statue. Then, they loaded it into the truck and left. The director of the Barakat Gallery in Los Angeles, Paul Henderson, was shocked when he saw the footage. Indeed, one person managing to steal something that big in the middle of the night in such a short amount of time really does sound unbelievable.
Henderson said he was worried about what the criminal might do with the sculpture. Since its uniqueness and value make it incredibly hard to sell at the black art market, the thief, most likely, did not know what they were stealing and planned to have the bronze piece melted down.
The valuable sculpture dates back to the Edo Period, known for being one of the most artistically diverse and sophisticated in the history of Japan. The Buddha statue is thought to once have been a centerpiece in a temple located on Mount Yudono, Japan. The inscription found on the statue suggests that it was made by the Japanese artist Tadazou Iinuma for a person named Ryozen, a respected Shingon Buddhist official.
Nothing is known about the fate of the bronze Buddha yet. Historically, items being returned after missing for months and even years by the people who stole them back to museums and galleries is not uncommon, so, hopefully, the Barakat Gallery will get its precious sculpture back.