This is a report by Stephen Chao for Al-Jazeera on the theft and distribution to high-paying collectors of the art treasures of Nepal, which is often facilitated by bribery and corruption.
We first see the team traveling to various remote, and sometimes abandoned, temples and stūpas in Mustang and other remote places, to see how vulnerable these sites are to relic hunters. This has been happening throughout history, but it is even more so today as some statues and other artifacts can sell for even hundreds of thousands of dollars in the right European and US markets.
After looking at how artifacts are being removed we next see how easy it is get them out of the country, providing the right officials are bribed and paid off. Chao actually becomes part of a sting operation against one such art dealer (an activity, by the way, I am not sure journalists should really be involved in).
He then travels to the Rubin Museum in New York where he interviews one of the curators, and asks about the problem of stolen and illegally exported materials, at which point the interview is abruptly brought to an end.
It is clear there can be no resolution to this issue given the market conditions, and how profitable it has become. Meanwhile a large section of Nepal’s heritage is no longer available to its population, is not used for the purposes it was created for, and has become the property of wealthy collectors of various kinds overseas.
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