Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Buddha to return home

Kushan Buddha for which refund negotiated.  Source: News Corp Australia, Picture: Kym Smith.

Michaela Boland, National Gallery of Australia gets refund as Buddha goes home, The Australian, 6 March 2015

IT was one of the most monumental examples of Buddhist art in the national collection, a large cross-legged figure that bears the scars of its 1800 years, but yesterday the Kushan Buddha was quiet­ly taken off display after the National Gallery of Australia concluded negotiations for its return to India.

In a landmark deal for an Australian museum that has inter­national ramifications, the NGA has successfully negotiated a dealer’s refund of $US1.08 million ($1.38m), the sum it paid for the Buddha eight years ago.

New guidelines released last year by the Attorney-General’s Department in the wake of the scandal involving a Dancing Shiva acquired from disgraced India­n dealer Subhash Kap­oor require an export certificate from the Indian government to accompany artworks, which the Kushan Buddha did not have.

NGA director Gerard Vaughan said the statue had been deaccessioned and owner­ship would revert to the dealer, pending a handover to India. “It is not unusual that a purchasing institution might receive a warranty guaranteeing authenticity and clear, uninhibited title,” he said. “I am not aware of any precedence of calling in the warranty in this country, but I am sure it has happened from time to time overseas.”

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