A second-century sculpture called “Footprints of Buddha,” set to be shown in New York by Japanese antiquities dealer Tatsuzo Kaku, was allegedly stolen in 1989, according to authorities. Kaku was arrested on March 14 at the Mark Hotel on East 77th Street for smuggling in the $1.1 million relic, reports the Post.
Kaku runs antiquitues dealer Taiyo Ltd. in Tokyo and had agreed to ship the 440-pound Buddhapada sculpture to New York, said law enforcement sources.
It had been swiped from an archaeological site in the Swat Region of Pakistan, and Kaku had bought and sold it a couple times before, officials say.
The Manhattan DA’s Office and Homeland Security seized the piece before it was sold from the Maitreya Inc. Gallery on East 75th Street.
The DA and Homeland Security made several other highly-publicized seizures of objects during the Asia Week New York festivities. Among them, a 2nd Century Bodhisattva schist head from the Gandhara region, and a number of works offered in an Upper East Side gallery, reports the New York Times. Two stolen Indian statues, believed to be from the 8th and 10th centuries A.D., were recovered from Christie's auction house.
The HSI say the 2,600 works that they have recovered in the past 9 years as part of Operation Hidden Idol are valued in excess of $100 million, and include items returned by museums to their countries of origin.