A Looted 14th Century Sculpture Is Returned to Nepal by the Manhattan District Attorney

The Durga Stele, stolen from Nepal in the 1960s, has been repatriated after it was seized from the New York art market earlier this year.

Black stone depicting Durga goddess.
The Durga Stele. Courtesy Global Nepali Museum.

A 14th century antiquity was returned to Nepal in a repatriation ceremony, according to an Aug. 24 press release from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

The Durga Stele was looted from the Kathmandu Valley in the 1960s along with numerous other Nepali statues smuggled by dealer Doris Wiener, according to the DA. Later sold to a private collector, the piece appeared on the New York art market this year where it was seized by the District Attorney’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit.

Valued at $18,000 and depicting the goddess Durga, the Durga Stele was used in Hindu ceremonial rituals and still contained a ceremonial ritual pigment of sandalwood and numeric when sold to a private collector. The piece surfaced after the conviction of Weiner’s daughter Nancy Weiner, who was charged in September 2021 for trafficking millions of dollars worth of looted antiquities.

“A single piece stolen from any country is one too many,” said District Attorney Alvin Bragg in a statement. “The historical, artistic and cultural values attached to the Durga Stele are immeasurable.”

A Looted 14th Century Sculpture Is Returned to Nepal by the Manhattan District Attorney