Both objects are exquisite examples of Newa devotional art and photographs in art and architecture publications in the 1970s of the objects in situ in Kathmandu shrines prove their provenance. It is not known who stole them, and how they came to be in possession of The Rubin, which has now been withdrawn from view.
Announcement about the two objects was made at the official launch on Friday at the Patan Museum of The Nepal Heritage Recovery Campaign by Lalitpur Mayor Chiribabu Maharjan. The Campaign aims to work for the return of sacred objects to the temples and monuments from where they were stolen, or to museums in Nepal.
The Campaign has informed the Nepal consulate in New York about the objects in possession of The Rubin, and says it will start working immediately to facilitate the restitution of these and other antiquities.
Lost Arts of Nepal is based in the US and has tracked down numerous other stolen Nepali antiquities, some of which have already been returned or handed over to Nepali authorities.
Just last week, a 10th century stone figure of Uma Maheswar, stolen from Gaa Hiti in Patan 50 years ago was handed over to the Nepal Embassy in Washington DC by the Denver Art Museum.
In the past year, six stolen stone and bronze sacred statuary have been handed back to Nepal. They include the 12th-century Laxmi-Narayan statue from Patko Tole in Patan returned by the Dallas Museum of Art, a 13th century carved wooden Apsara from a temple eave, and a 700 year old Buddha.
A 15th century Ganesh was also recently returned by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and a 13th century Shivalinga stolen from Kathmandu was returned to the Nepal Embassy in Washington by the Art Institute of Chicago.
These objects are temporarily stored at the Patan Museum or National Museum in Chhauni before being returned and consecrated at their original shrines.
“We are committed to restore the sacred statues that have been returned to the temples from which they were stolen,” Mayor Maharjan said at the launch of the Nepal Heritage Recovery Campaign.
The Campaign’s patron is historian Satyamohan Joshi and is chaired by Riddhi Baba Pradhan, former Director General of the Department of Archaeology. Other members include Dilendra Shrestha of Patan Museum, lawyer Sanjay Adhikari, Rohit Ranjitkar of the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, Roshan Mishra of Taragaon Museum and journalist Kanak Mani Dixit.