$1.5M ancient Buddha statue brazenly stolen from LA gallery recovered, suspect arrested

$1.5M ancient Buddha statue brazenly stolen from LA gallery recovered, suspect arrested

New York Post·2023-09-28 20:02

A $1.5 million Buddha sculpture that was stolen from a Los Angeles art gallery last week has been recovered — and one man has been arrested in connection to the brazen heist, according to police.

The 250-pound bronze statue, which is hundreds of years old and hails from Japan, was discovered in a truck on Saturday, LAPD Lt. Ruiz told KTLA. Justin Livick, 44 was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property. He’s since been released, cops said.

Police said it’s not clear if Livick was the thief who was caught on camera robbing the piece from Barakat Gallery in Beverly Grove or if he had purchased the stolen art.

No additional details have been released, the outlet said.

Security footage from the gallery shows the thief pull up to the gallery in a moving truck around 3:45 a.m. on Sept. 18, according to owner Fayez Baraka.

The driver steps out, busts open a driveway gate and enters the gallery, video shows. He then used a dolly to load the 4-foot-tall statue on the truck before driving off. The heist took just 25 minutes.

4 The 250-pound, four-foot bronze statue dates from Japan’s Edo Period. KTLA 5

4 The $1.5 million statue was snatched from the Barakat Gallery. KTLA 5

Hundreds of other valuable pieces were skipped over in favor of the Buddha — the only item that was stolen.

Baraka told KTLA that the statue, which he acquired 55 years ago, dates back to Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1867). It is believed to have been commissioned for the centerpiece of a temple.

4 The thief was caught on security camera taking the statue. KTLA 5

4 The statue was the only piece targeted in the heist. KTLA 5

“Because it’s an ancient artifact, there’s nowhere where you can sell this piece,” he told the outlet after the theft. “You can’t go on the market. You can’t take it to a pawn shop and sell it for a few thousand dollars, it’s just not possible. So, it’s very interesting. It’s like a museum heist type thing where, what are you going to do with this object right now? We’re all very curious and really puzzled, to be honest.”


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