The stone figure of Laxmi-Narayan had been worshipped at a shrine in Patan’s Patko Tole for 800 years. But on one night of 1984, it disappeared.
The holy androgynous composite of the two deities was so important to the community that local people replaced it with a poor replica.
In 1990, the the 12th-century statue, which is also known as Vasudeva-Kamala was spotted at the Sotheby’s auction house based in New York. After that it disappeared again until American artist Joy Lynn Davis located it via a Google image search to the Dallas Museum of Art.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is finally taking possession of the 70kg figure on Tuesday, and delivering it to the Nepal Embassy in Washington on 5 March, American Art Crime Professor, Erin L Thompson, who has been tracking this and other stolen antiquities, told Nepali Times.
“I am happy that the museum saw its retention of the work was unjust,” Thompson said. “I continue to be dismayed that museums and collectors demand the type of proof about the date and circumstances of theft that existed in this case, since this information has so often gone unrecorded elsewhere. No work of Nepali sacred art left the country legally, that is the essential fact.”