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Cleveland museum buys rare Shiva statue

india Updated: Apr 04, 2007 13:48 IST

IANS
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The Cleveland Museum of Art has bought a rare, 1,000-year-old Indian sculpture of Hindu god Shiva for a record $4.072 million.

The museum revealed on Monday that it was the secret buyer of the Indian sculpture, which it bought through an auction at Sotheby's in New York through London art dealer John Eskenazi.

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo sold the dark grey, granite Shiva sculpture in a controversial auction March 23.

Established in 1913, the museum has a permanent collection of over 40,000 objects in 70 galleries and is well known for its collections of pre-Columbian, medieval European, and Asian art, said Cleveland.com.

"I'm elated," said Timothy Rub, director of the Cleveland museum. He termed the sculpture a new centrepiece of Cleveland's highly regarded collection of Asian art.

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery set off a bitter civic controversy in Buffalo last year when it decided to sell the Shiva statue and dozens of other important pre-modern works to raise money for its relatively modest endowment of $58 million.

Last month, a court dismissed a last-minute lawsuit filed by a group called the Buffalo Art Keepers, which tried to stop the auctions.

Albright-Knox has raised $22 million so far by selling works of ancient and Asian art, with the Shiva statue fetching one of the highest individual prices.

"This is the crowning of my career," said Stanislaw Czuma, who retired in 2005 after 33 years as the museum's curator of Indian and southeast Asian art.

It was Czuma who had urged the museum to buy the work.

"From every level you approach it, this is a fantastic acquisition."