via ProPublica, 27 March 2023: A rare statue of Buddha from the collection of James and Marilynn Alsdorf failed to sell at auction as questions swirl around the provenance of the collection, which also includes pieces from Southeast Asia.
What happened may be a sign that objects from the collection of James and Marilynn Alsdorf will have trouble finding buyers following questions about how they were acquired. The piece from Nepal was once displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago.
“Nobody wants to buy trouble,” said Erin Thompson, an associate professor of art crime at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York who has advocated for repatriation of Nepali artifacts. “Why would you buy someone else’s stolen cultural property?”
Although the Christie’s auction was a single sale of a single object, art experts said it was telling nonetheless. The rare Buddha had been in the collection of James and Marilynn Alsdorf, whose massive art holdings focused on pieces from Nepal and other parts of South and Southeast Asia.