Residents of a small Chinese village travelled to the Netherlands to get back an ancient Chinese statue with the remains of a thousand-year-old monk in court. Residents of this small village, called Yangchun (South-Eastern region of China), stated that a Dutch collector, Oscar Van Overeem, bought a stolen Buddha statue in Hongkong in 1996, with the skeleton of a monk on the inside.
According to 444.hu, the Chinese did not know for a long time where this important spiritual statue could be. In 2015, the statue was found by accident. One of the village’s residents was reading a newspaper when he spotted an article about a Buddha statue in which a monk’s skeleton was found by scanning. Based on the photos, it was the statue they were looking for, and they immediately started to campaign to get it back.
As it turns out, the statue was in Budapest, Hungary at the time. To make sure that the relic is real, one of the village’s residents who works in Budapest as a chef visited the Hungarian Natural History Museum, where the statue was exhibited as part of the Mummy World Exhibition. The relic was later removed from the exhibition.
The New York Times reported this case in 2015, but the Dutch collector emphasised that it is easy to prove the Chinse’s claim unfounded. He nevertheless stated that he would donate this statue to a Buddhist temple in China.
Not much was heard about the relic since then. Oscar Van Overeem recently appeared in court and stated that the statue is no longer in his possession, he gave it to a Chinese collector back in 2015. He does not know who he is, though, and denies the fact that he would deal with false artefacts.
The present case is significant because this could be the first time China successfully sues to get Chinese artefacts back from foreign countries, without deferring to any diplomatic routes.
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