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Looted in the 1980s, a Sacred Stele at the Dallas Museum of Art Is Headed Back to Nepal


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UNITED STATES, March 5, 2021 (The Art Newspaper): A 10th- or 11th-century stele (standing carved stone) that disappeared from a Hindu shrine in Nepal in 1984 and was later lent by an American collector to the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is being turned over to the Nepalese Embassy in Washington, DC for repatriation. The stele, carved in grey stone, depicts two Hindu Deities, Vishnu and his consort, Lakshmi, as a composite. It had been on loan to the Dallas museum since 1990, soon after it was auctioned at Sotheby's in New York. In November 2019, the museum became aware of questions about the work's background and contacted the Nepali Embassy in Washington, DC with the support of the collector who lent the work. The FBI then contacted the lender and the museum to reach a resolution allowing the transfer of the stele to Nepal.

"As soon as we became aware of additional information on the stele, we began working with the lender and with the Embassy of Nepal to determine an ethical and appropriate course of action," says the DMA's director, Agustin Artega. "We are pleased to ensure the safe transfer of this invaluable object to its home" in Nepal. Known as the Stele of Lakshmi-Narayana, the revered sculpture resided in a temple in the Nepalese city of Patan, near Kathmandu, until it vanished in 1984. Today, that temple has CCTV cameras and security, raising the prospect that the stele can safely go back on view. After its 1984 disappearance, the sculpture was replaced by a replica.

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