“How was it possible that such a sacred item could be stolen from such a highly secure place?” asks Karmacharya, whose father was the head priest when the treasures were ordered to be transferred.
Art historians say that the Taleju necklace and other religious objects in Nepal could not have been smuggled out without collusion between international art dealers, criminal networks and their accomplices on the ground in Kathmandu.
“The inscription at the front of the necklace leaves no doubt not only about when and where it was made, but also where it was intended to stay,” explains American art crime professor, Erin Thompson.
The Art Institute of Chicago exhibit includes details of the necklace, and says that it was among items gifted by the US-based Alsdorf Foundation. Interestingly, this the same foundation that used to also own the stone sculpture of the 13th century Chaturmukhi Shivalinga (below) that the museum handed over to the Nepal Embassy in Washington in April for restitution to Nepal.