A stolen Buddha statue valued at $1.5 million has been recovered by the Los Angeles Police Department, as announced on Wednesday. Justin Livick, 44, was arrested on Saturday and charged with suspicion of receiving stolen property from the Barakat Gallery. The identity of the person who actually stole the statue from the gallery during the early morning hours of September 18 remains unknown. Livick was booked into jail on Saturday night but released early Sunday morning.
The theft of the statue occurred at approximately 3:45 a.m. on September 18, according to the police. The Barakat Gallery has clarified that the statue originates from Japan’s Edo Period, which ranges from 1603 to 1867. Surveillance footage revealed that the suspect broke into the gallery through a driveway gate and used a dolly to transport the statue onto a truck within a span of 25 minutes.
David Henderson, the Director of Barakat Gallery’s Los Angeles location, expressed his astonishment at the audacity of the lone thief who managed to steal the heavy statue. In an interview with theartnewspaper.com, Henderson stated, “We’re all very puzzled. Obviously, this is a high-valued piece, it’s important, and aesthetically it’s a very interesting and unique item. It’s clearly a temple sculpture from that period, and the size and the execution make it a very rare item, so it’s not something you’d find on the market, which means it’s not something that could be resold easily.”
Henderson further explained that the motive behind the theft and the intentions of the thief concerning the Buddha statue remain uncertain. The particular statue contains an inscription which, when translated, reads, “Produced by Tadazou Iinuma, first year of Shouho, Kanoe. Prayed for and requested by Ryozen, master of Shingon religious party, Dainichi-Nyorai, Yudo-no-San Temple, of the highest social class.” As investigations continue, the police hope to shed light on why this valuable and distinctive piece was taken and what the thief plans to do with it.