Gautam said the Consulate and the Rubin Museum will “work closely in the promotion of art and culture” from the Himalaya.
The Rubin has agreed to bear the cost for returning both the objects to Nepal, possibly by the third week of May. Until then the objects will remain in the custody of the museum.
The Apsara, originally from Keshchandra Mahabihara, was added to the museum’s collection in 2003, while the torana in 2010. The online group Lost Arts of Nepal had tracked the objects to the museum’s collection and the Nepal Heritage Recovery Campaign had alerted the Nepali consulate and the museum in September 2021 about the provenance of the two objects, after which Rubin had promptly withdrawn them from public display.
Rubin said in a statement that the two objects – both extraordinary examples of traditional Newa devotional art – were the first in its collection found to have been unlawfully obtained.
The Consulate General and the Rubin collaborated to verify the origins of the artefacts, and the museum engaged two scholars of Nepali art to examine and research their known provenance. The scholars found that the Gandharva went missing from Itum Bahal in 1999 and was purchased by the Shelley and Donald Rubin Cultural Trust four years later.
According to Sandrine Millet, a spokesperson for the museum, the two artefacts were purchased in private sales, but she declined to name the dealers.