The sculpture was once in The Devisthan Kundalpur Temple in Kurkihar, Bihar, India but is believed to have been missing since around 2000 and was traded a number of times before being bought by an Italian collector.
Working with Vijay Kumar of the India Pride Project, Art Recovery located the missing sculpture and negotiated an unconditional release from an anonymous Italian collector at the end of last year.
The statue was officially handed over on February 10 at a ceremony at the Consulate General of India in Milan.
Vijay Kumar, founder of the India Pride Project said: “We have been searching for this buddha for almost eight years…. With cooperation from law enforcement in India and the Archaeological Survey of India a solid case was constructed including published journal images of the buddha in situ and police records of the theft. Armed with this material, Marinello negotiated an unconditional surrender of the buddha to the Government of India without compensation.”
Marinello, a lawyer and the founder of Art Recovery International, said: “Vijay provided me with his most-wanted list of looted art and we went to work from there. A window of opportunity exists for possessors of stolen artwork to come forward voluntarily before law enforcement comes knocking at the door.”
Marinello said it is his second recovery of a piece of Indian cultural heritage in two months while working with the India Pride Project. It followed the successful repatriation of an 8th-century goat head yogini statue from a garden in the English countryside in December 2021.