In 1983, a statue of the Buddhist deity Samvara like the one above was stolen from Kathmandu’s Itum Bahal Temple, a structure that dates to the 13th century AD. Thirty years later, a Brooklyn art dealer may have unloaded the plundered artifact for $370,000.
DNAinfo reports on the case of Greenpoint- and Upper East Side-based dealer Nayef Homsi, who is alleged to have sold the Samvara and two other stolen sculptures between 2012 and 2013 for a total of around half a million dollars. Papers filed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and obtained by DNAinfo claim that Homsi knew the works were stolen before he sold them, and that he will likely be arrested “within the next few days.”
The evidence, at least in the case of the Samvara statue, doesn’t look good for Homsi: an expert allegedly told him the statue was “almost assuredly” stolen from Itum Bahal before the sale, and Homsi himself acknowledged that it had “the black spot of theft” in an email. The buyer was an unidentified party in Beijing.
Homsi’s reputation isn’t as a shady black market operator: his website advertises many apparently legitimately acquired artifacts, and his UES gallery has received positive mentions from Bloomberg, Collect magazine, and the New York Times. A law enforcement source told DNAinfo that Homsi is a “minor player” in a larger investigation.