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The recovered 15th century bronzes.

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The bronzes, taken more than 40 years ago, will now be returned to their temple in the Tanjavur district in India. Although the thieves were identified and convicted in India at the time, the whereabouts of the stolen idols was unknown.

In 2019, the Met’s Art and Antiques Unit were alerted by the Indian High Commission that one of the bronze sculptures had been offered for sale.

The dealer, once presented with the evidence, voluntarily disclaimed the sculpture so that it could be returned. He also identified two additional sculptures from the set and volunteered to return them.

DCI Tim Wright, of the Met’s central specialist crime unit, said: “These three bronzes haven’t been seized by the police, but have been voluntarily disclaimed by the UK owner. Once he was aware that they had been stolen, he immediately recognised that they should return to India.”

A ceremony was held at the Indian High Commission in London to return the statues last week.