Trade Resources Culture & Life Dutch Collector Puts Conditions on Stolen Buddha Statue's Return to China

Dutch Collector Puts Conditions on Stolen Buddha Statue's Return to China

Dutch Collector Puts Conditions on Stolen Buddha Statue's Return to China

The Buddha statue on display at the Hungarian Natural History Museum in Budapest in March. [Photo/Xinhua]

A 1000-year-old Buddha statue with a mummified monk inside, now in possession of Dutch private collector Oscar van Overeem, triggered a series of disputes in the past eight months between the collector and villagers of Yangchun in Southeastern China's Fujian province who claim that the statue was the one of Patriarch Zhanggong which was stolen in 1995 from the Puzhao Temple in their village.

Recently, the villagers hired a group of lawyers who obtained evidence in preparation to a lawsuit in Holland. Oscar van Overeem contacted journalists at Xinhua News Agency stressing that he can scientifically prove that the statue is not the one from Yangchun village. He then introduced three conditions on returning the statue to China.

The collector told Chinese journalists that he agreed to return the statue to China but demanded to return it to a grand temple instead of a small temple in a village. The Chinese government agreed to help him do research on something irrelevant to the statue but has failed to deliver on its promise. The Chinese side refusess to overcompensate for his loss on the statue.

"I've suggested adding the statue to a series of Chinese collections. In that case, if someone buys them for China, no one knows the single price of the statue. However, they refused to do so," Oscar van Overeem said.

"I've told the Chinese government in September that if they would buy the statue with other relics, the single price of the statue would be much cheaper than 20-30 million US dollars, which is the asking prices of other people who planned to buy it from me," he said.

The collector once said that he bought the statue for 40,000 Dutch guilders ($20,500) in 1996 from a collector in Amsterdam who had acquired it in Hong Kong, and refused to sell it despite the steep offer of ten million Euros ($10.85 million).

Some European collectors gathered a set of Chinese cultural relics and tried to find an intermediary to sell it in 2013. Oscar van Overeem recently added the mummified Buddha statue to that collection.

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Topics: Arts & Crafts