Dallas Museum of Art, Embassy of Nepal, and Federal Bureau of Investigation to Transfer Stele of Lakshmi-Narayana to Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal

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Dallas, TX—March 5, 2021—The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), the Embassy of Nepal, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) today announced that they are collaborating to transfer a 10th-/11th-century stele that was previously on loan to the Museum from a private collection. With the full support of the object’s lender, the Stele of Lakshmi-Narayana is being transferred to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, where it is believed to have been taken from a temple in Patan.

The Stele of Lakshmi-Narayana, which depicts two Hindu deities, Vishnu and his consort, Lakshmi, in a composite form, has been on loan to the Museum since 1990, soon after it was auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York. In November 2019, new information became available concerning the provenance of the stele. With the lender’s support, the DMA contacted officials at the Nepalese Embassy, who provided provenance information on the stele. The DMA and the lender were subsequently contacted by the FBI and worked cooperatively and responsibly to reach a mutual resolution and effectuate the transfer of this important object to Nepal through the FBI, with coordination by the DMA.

“The Dallas Museum of Art is committed to responsible stewardship of the objects in our care and rigorous provenance standards. As soon as we became aware of additional information on the stele, we began working with the lender and with the Embassy of Nepal to determine an ethical and appropriate course of action. We are pleased to ensure the safe transfer of this invaluable object to its home in the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, and we are grateful to the Embassy of Nepal and the FBI for their collaboration,” said Dr. Agustín Arteaga, The Eugene McDermott Director of the DMA. 

“Along with the FBI’s Art Crime Team, the Dallas FBI is grateful for the Dallas Museum of Art’s determination to assist in the safe return of the Stele of Lakshmi-Narayana to the Government of Nepal. The FBI has developed significant relationships with our foreign partners that are committed to the protection of cultural property. We will continue to work with those partners to keep the public informed and updated about art and cultural property theft crimes to bring greater awareness to stolen artifacts,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno.

About the Stele of Lakshmi-Narayana  
Carved in gray stone, the Stele of Lakshmi-Narayana depicts Vishnu and his consort, Lakshmi, in a dual form, bearing attributes and holding symbolic objects that identify both gods. For example, Vishnu’s mace and discus are held in the figure’s two upper, proper right hands, and the conch and lotus in the lower hands. Lakshmi’s prominent breast is evident on the figure’s proper left side, and the left hands hold a mirror and a container of jewels, both symbols of Lakshmi’s feminine nature. In Hindu thought, male and female are necessary complements for divine union. The stele measures 33 5/8 by 19 1/4 inches and probably dates to the 10th or 11th century CE.  

About the Dallas Museum of Art  
Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is among the 10 largest art museums in the country. With a free general admission policy and community outreach efforts, the DMA is distinguished by its commitment to research, innovation, and public engagement. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses 25,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Located in the nation’s largest arts district, the Museum acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary events, and dramatic and dance presentations. The DMA is an Open Access institution, allowing all works believed to be in the public domain to be freely available for downloading, sharing, repurposing, and remixing without restriction. For more information, visit DMA.org.

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported, in part, by the generosity of DMA Members and donors, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture.   

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Media Contacts: 

Dallas Museum of Art                                                  
Jill Bernstein  
Dallas Museum of Art  
214-922-1802  
JBernstein@DMA.org

FBI Dallas Division
Katie Chaumont
Public Affairs
Office: 972-559-5699
Cell: 214-490-7321
KGChaumont@fbi.gov