Stolen yogini goddess statue to be returned to India

A stolen yogini statue, which was once on sale at Sotheby’s auction house in London, will be returned to the High Commission of India to be repatriated.
The ancient statue depicts an Indian goat-headed deity derived from the yogini — female goddesses whose lineage traces back to rural and tribal villages in India, according to professor and curator Vidya Dehejia’s book, “Yogini Cult and Temples: A Tantric Tradition.”
It was located in October 2021 by Christopher Marinello, a lawyer and founder of Art Recovery International, a company that specializes in recovering stolen, looted and missing works of art.
Marinello said he came across the statue when a widow in the UK, whose identity he declined to reveal, asked his firm to assist with the sale of the contents of her home — which included the yogini figure.
“This item raised a red flag,” says Marinello.
Marinello said the widow “had no idea,” and was shocked that the statue had previously been stolen, but was cooperative when she found out.
Marinello then contacted Vijay Kumar, co-founder of the India Pride Project, a nonprofit that is dedicated to recovering looted cultural objects across India.
Kumar confirmed Marinello’s claim that the statue had been stolen, saying said the goat-headed statue is part of a larger collection of yogini figures that went missing from the village of Lokhari in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh between about 1978 and 1982.
An image of the goat-headed statue appears is Dehejia’s book, where she wrote, “On top of an isolated hill in the Banda district of Uttar Pradesh, near the village of Lokhari, are twenty images of Yoginis together with a large quantity of stone blocks that once formed the walls of a Yogini temple.
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