The family-owned Barakat Gallery in Los Angeles, specializing in international antiquities, discovered last week that a prized enormous Buddha sculpture from Japan had been stolen from its outdoor grounds in West Hollywood. The four-foot bronze artifact was taken during the early hours of Monday morning, September 18, after the thief, who remains at large, came equipped with a moving truck and dolly to facilitate the burglary.
According to Gallery Director Paul Henderson, the Buddha statue hails from Japan and dates back to the Edo period (1603–1867). An inscription on the work, written partially in Sanskrit, attributes the artifact to an artist named Tadazou Iinuma and indicates that it was “prayed for and requested by Ryozen, master of the Shingon religious party, Dainichi-Nyorai, Yudo-no-San Temple, of the highest social class.”
“This monumental bronze sculpture likely once dominated the interior of a temple,” Henderson told Hyperallergic. “Judging from the inscription, it is likely that this work was once placed in the Yudo-no-San Temple.”
Gallery owner Fayez Barakat told local news outlet KTLA that he acquired the enormous sculpture over 55 years ago, and that “there is no other piece in the world quite like it.” He had situated the statue, whose estimated value he says is $1.5 million, in the outdoor grounds of the La Cienega Boulevard gallery location for public enjoyment alongside hundreds of other international artifacts. Hyperallergic has inquired further about the object’s provenance.
Security footage that captured the incident showed the thief pulling up to the scene in a Budget moving truck, breaking open the driveway gate, and wheeling the bronze cast on a dolly back to the truck.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has not responded to Hyperallergic’s request for comment. According to the gallery, no arrests have been made so far.