An advertisement for an upcoming Christie’s auction in Paris caught the eye of a UNESCO official, who recognized the pictured “Fasting Buddha” as a potentially illicit antiquity. The 3rd/4th century Gandhara piece is characteristic of objects illegally excavated and smuggled from Buddhist sites in the early 1980’s. The auction had an impressive starting price of $4.45 million.
The investigation revealed 60 more Ghandara relics in Christie’s possession, with values ranging from $2k to $200k. Pakistan is now demanding return of these artifacts under the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Cultural Property. Under the Convention, Signing Parties agree to enforce one another’s claims to cultural property.
The auctions have been halted, but Pakistan will have to prove its claims to the objects before they can be returned.
Read the full article, Pakistan claim stops Christie’s auction of Buddha.