File photo taken on March 3, 2015 shows the Chinese Buddha statue at the Hungarian Natural History Museum in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo: Xinhua/Attila Volgyi)
A Dutch collector, who is now in possession of a unique Buddha statue with the mummified remains of a monk concealed inside, has said on social media that he is willing to return the relic to a rural temple in China, from where the statue was allegedly stolen.
The collector Oscar van Overeem says he has reached an agreement with a local temple concerning the return of the Buddha statue.
Overeem said that he bought the statue in 1996 at a cost of 40,000 gulden (around $22,400 USD).
A foundation, which Overreem refused to give the name has agreed to compensate for his investment in the statue and the related research work.
Experts from the Fujian Provincial Bureau of Cultural Heritage have confirmed through their current investigations based on photos and historical records that the statue belonged to the Puzhao temple of Yangchun Village in southeast China's Fujian province.
The State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) is expected to conduct further investigations.
China's cultural authorities have contacted both Overreem and the Netherlands embassy in China to help the repatriation process.
But Liu Yang, a committee member of the Yuanmingyuan Society of China has expressed concerns over the protection of the statue after it returned.
The Buddha statue was on display in Hungary before reports surfaced that it had been stolen from China.
According to the villagers of Yangchun, the statue contained the mummified remains of a Buddhist monk, whom they worshiped as an ancestor.