Bangkok (dpa) – Two stolen Buddha statues have been returned to Laos authorities following “lengthy negotiations” with their Austrian owner, a news report said Thursday.
Reinhold Mittersakschmoller handed the wooden statues over to the Laos Embassy in Vienna in a ceremony on Tuesday, eight years after he bought them in Thailand, according to the Vientiane Times.
Mittersakschmoller said he later came to suspect that the 40-centimetre-high figures were from the Ting cave in Luang Prabang province, one of the Laos’ biggest tourist destinations.
The cave is a Buddhist site and place of pilgrimage containing thousands of such objects.
A subsequent investigation confirmed the centuries-old statues were taken from the cave and put on sale in Thailand, the report said.
Statues from the cave have been stolen before, either for profit or in the belief that the Buddhist figures hold special powers.