Saturday, December 27, 2014

Statue Sold for $4.3 Million Despite Mongolia’s Move to Block Sale

A 17th century Mongolian bronze figure was sold for 3.46 million euros ($4.3 million) at an auction in Paris today despite the Mongolian government’s efforts to block the sale.

The statue of female Buddhist deity Tara came from the workshop of the 17th century artist Zanabazar, and Mongolia suspects it may have been removed to France illegally, Culture Minister Luvsannyam Gantumur wrote in a letter yesterday. The figure was expected to fetch up to 300,000 euros.

Mongolia hasn’t allowed the sale of Zanabazar artworks since the 1920s, and Sotheby’s (BID) should determine the item’s provenance “due to possible legal consequences,” Gantumur wrote to Sotheby’s France Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Cerutti.

The statue, which Sotheby’s describes as a “very rare and important gilt-bronze figure,” was set to go on sale at 10:30 a.m. in Paris as part of the Arts d’Asie auction today. Sotheby’s France spokeswoman Alexandrine Hawawini declined to comment on Mongolia’s claim, and confirmed the sale amount.

According to a brochure, the statue was acquired from Jean-Claude Moreau-Gobard in Paris in 1954.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Jun Luo in Shanghai at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Liu at Phani Varahabhotla, Nicholas Wadhams

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