Japan fears prized Buddha statue could fall into foreign hands at NY auction

A Buddha statue believed to have been made by a leading artist from the Kamakura Period (12-13th century) will be auctioned in New York next month.

The wooden statue of Vairocana, or Dainichi Nyorai in Japanese, will go up for auction at Christie's on March 18.

"It is difficult for the (Japanese) government to participate in the bid," said an official of the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

Although some art museums in Japan are interested in participating in the auction, experts fear that the Buddha statue of national-treasure class could be bought by an overseas bidder.

The statue's creator, Unkei, whose birth date is unknown, died in 1223. He was a prominent creator of Buddha statues during the Kamakura Period. There are currently 13 works made or believed to have been made by Unkei in Japan. Among them, 12 works have been designated as national treasures or important cultural assets.

http://mainichi.jp/enta/art/news/200802 ... 4000c.html