Idol Wing trace Sambandar idol to Christie’s USA

Police had earlier traced the Parvati idol to Bonham’s auction house in New York, USA, ten days ago.
A bronze figure of Sambandar
A bronze figure of Sambandar

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Police’s Idol Wing said that they have traced the second stolen idol (Sambandar) from Thandanthottam temple to the Christie’s auction house in USA.

The idol is estimated to be at least worth Rs 1 crore.

Police had earlier traced the Parvati idol to Bonham’s auction house in New York, USA, ten days ago.

The Idol Wing were acting based on a complaint from KnVasu (67) in 2019, stating that five idols-Sambandar, Krishna kalinga-narthanam, Ayyanar, Agasthiyar and Parvati idol of Nadanapureshwarar Sivan temple, Thandanthottam Village in Kumbakonam Taluk, Thanjavur District got stolen in May 1971 by some miscreants by breaking open the locks of the temple.

Based on the complaint, the Idol Wing CID registered a case under sections 457 (2), 380 (2), 120-B of IPC and 25 (1) Section of AAT Act, 1972.

The complainant is the head of the welfare association functioning in the village, responsible for maintaining the temple, an official release said.

Though case was registered on February 14, 2019, there was no progress in the investigation.

“As there was no image of the Sambandar idol available either with the complainant or in the temple records, there was no way the investigation could make headway without a photo or a document describing the Idol. Therefore, the investigating officer decided to check if the Indo-French Institute Pondicherry, a repository of some of Tamil Nadu's cultural treasures, had any images of the missing idols, ” an official release said.

Armed with the picture available at IFP, police started browsing for the Sambandar idols of the Chola period in the various museums and auction houses abroad.

After a thorough search, the Sambandar idol was found on display at the website of Christie's Auction house (an Auction Company based in the USA engaged in selling antique artefacts), an official release said.

Pictures of the idol from IFP and the auction house were sent to experts. After examining and comparing both photos, the experts confirmed their findings that the Idol in both images was the same.

The Idol Wing has now sent a letter of request to the auction house in USA for repatriation of the antique bronze metal Idol of Sampandar burgled from Nadanapureeswarar Sivan temple under the agreement between the governments, concerning mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

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