The UNESCO has officially recognized the statue as a world heritage site. The statue stands at approximately two meters in height and weighs around 250 kilograms.
The artifact was unlawfully removed from the My Son Sanctuary in Quang Nam Province, located in central Vietnam, in the year 2008.
The ceremony to hand over the statue to Vietnam was graced by the presence of Ambassador Nguyen Hoang Long of Vietnam to the United Kingdom, Minister Counsellor To Minh Thu, and esteemed officials from the United States and Britain.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced on June 22, that a civil forfeiture action had been filed and settled in relation to the sale of stolen Southeast Asian antiquities by UK antiques dealer Douglas Latchford. The action resulted in the confiscation of US$12 million.
In 2019, Latchford was formally charged with organized fraud conspiracy and various other offenses.
During the period from 2003 to 2020, he generated over $12 million in profits by selling illicit Southeast Asian antiquities to buyers and dealers in the United States.
In 2008 and 2009, he acquired a bronze statue of the four-armed goddess Durga, dating back to the seventh-century.
|The statue is carefully wrapped up before being handed over to Vietnam.|
According to bank and email records, Latchford traveled to Vietnam in November 2008 with the intention of acquiring an artwork. He instructed his bankers to transfer a sum of $2 million to the bank account provided by an individual with a Vietnamese email address.
In January 2009, Mr. Latchford sent an email to an antiques dealer with a photograph of the goddess Durga statue. The photo depicted the statue lying on its back, covered with dust and minerals, suggesting that it had recently been unearthed.
The statue was identified as being recovered from the My Son Sanctuary.
The Vietnamese Embassy in the United Kingdom collaborated with various British entities to repatriate the statue, following notification from the Vietnamese Embassy in the United States.
After the passing of Latchford in 2020, his daughter Julia Copleston became the rightful owner of a collection of 125 statues. Among these valuable items is a notable piece, namely the four-armed goddess Durga statue.
Copleston has agreed to relinquish the statue to Vietnam.
During the ceremony to receive the statue, Ambassador Long, representing the Vietnamese government, expressed gratitude to the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations and the British police for their collaborative efforts in returning the statue to Vietnam. He mentioned that the handover coincided with the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the UK, as well as the elevation of bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership between Vietnam and the U.S., marking the highest level in the country’s international relations in Southeast Asia.
According to Long, the Vietnamese Embassy in the UK will collaborate closely with domestic agencies to ensure the secure transportation of the statue to Vietnam.