The sculpture is one of three being returned to
Museum officials met with Cambodian officials earlier this year and are returning the statue "as a gesture of friendship, and in response to a unique and compelling request by top officials in
"The Norton Simon properly acquired the Bhima from a reputable art dealer in
Cambodian officials believe it was looted from the 1,000-year-old Prasat Chen temple. Arrangements for the return will be announced at a later date.
As part of the return agreement,
The decision marks the latest progress in efforts to bring back together nine figures that once formed a tableau in a tower of the temple. The scene captured a famous duel in Hindu mythology in which the warrior Duryodhana is struck down by his cousin Bhima at the end of a bloody war of succession while seven attendants look on.
Experts say that looters hacked the figures off their bases during the civil war. Some were apparently smuggled out of the country and eventually wound up in the hands of private collectors or in museums abroad, as did many statues from other temples that the Cambodian government now hopes to reclaim.
The figures of three onlookers to the duel are now in
Sotheby's auction house has agreed to return the footless figure of Duryodhana, valued at
Last year, the auction house agreed to surrender the statue, settling a lawsuit filed by the U.S. government on
Also, Christie's auction house will return a statue of the mythological figure Pandava. The auction house sold it to an anonymous collector in 2009 but bought it back earlier this year after officials determined that the sculpture had been looted, the New York Times (http://nyti.ms/1lXLEeQ ) reported Tuesday.
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