Heist of $1.5 Million Buddha Statue Leads to Arrest in Los Angeles

Details are coming to light on an artifact heist in Los Angeles, where a Buddha sculpture reportedly worth $1.5 million was stolen overnight on Sept. 18. Police made an arrest relating to the case.

By Lindsay Weinberg Sep 28, 2023 11:10 AMTags
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A valuable Buddha statue has been found after it was stolen from a gallery in Los Angeles.

Police arrested Justin Livick on Sept. 23 around 5:40 p.m. for allegedly receiving stolen property, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson told E! News. While the statue was recovered, detectives are still looking for the suspect that took the religious sculpture.

Livick, 44, has been released from custody, according to local outlet KTLA. He did not have attorney information available for E! News to reach out for comment.

The Buddha figure—which is reportedly worth $1.5 million and weighs 250 pounds—was discovered in a truck five days after it was stolen from Beverly Grove's Barakat Gallery, police told KTLA.

The overnight heist took place around 3:45 a.m. on Sept. 18, when a person stepped out of a moving truck and loaded up the Buddha statue using a dolly, per security footage obtained by the outlet. 

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Gallery owner Fayez Barakat told KTLA it took about 25 minutes for the thief to take the artifact, which he said dates to Japan's Edo Period from 1603-1867.

"I prize it so much," Barakat told the outlet. "I had it in the backyard of my home and when I moved into this gallery, I put it in the backyard of the gallery for everybody to admire and enjoy."

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Barakat said the sculpture, thought to be originally commissioned for a temple centerpiece, was the only item taken.

"We have 200 objects back there, but this is our prize piece," gallery director Paul Henderson told KTLA before the arrest. "I don't think there's another like it on the market anywhere. It's four feet tall, it's hollow cast bronze and it's a stunning piece. It's really aesthetically arresting and it's shocking to see something like this go missing." 

He added that there's "nowhere" someone could re-sell the piece since it's "an ancient artifact."

"You can't go on the market. You can't take it to a pawn shop and sell it for a few thousand dollars, it's just not possible," he said. "So, it's very interesting. It's like a museum heist type thing where, ‘What are you going to do with this object right now?' We're all very curious and really puzzled, to be honest."

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