A prized Buddha statue, worth $1.2 million, was stolen from the Barakat Gallery in Los Angeles on Sunday.
The CCTV footage showed that the theft occurred around 3.45 am on Sunday morning. The thieves backed a rental van and slammed it into the gallery, thereby breaking the door and gaining entry. From there, they loaded the 4-foot-tall and 250-pound-heavy sculpture in their van and went away. While the gallery’s warehouse also housed numerous other sculptures – including Japanese terracotta tiles and African wood carving – the theft seemed to have been planned just around the Buddha statue.
The statue was also the most prized object in the collection of the Barakat Gallery, which also has branches in Seoul, London, and Hong Kong. According to Fayez Barakat (owner of the gallery): “I prize it so much. I had it in the backyard of my home and when I moved into this gallery, I put it in the backyard of the gallery for everybody to admire and enjoy.” Paul Henderson (director of the gallery) re-emphasized that the statue was one of a kind, and further added that there had never been a theft in the gallery in his 12 years of service.
The Buddha statue, which shows the Buddha in a seated, meditative stance, comes from the Edo period of Japan. It is said to have been commissioned to serve as the centerpiece of a temple. Fayez Barakat first acquired it 55 years ago.