Christie’s went ahead and sold the Buddha for nearly $4.5 million and has asked Pakistan to provide proof of its claims, the auction house said.
Kakar was more successful with two shipments of Buddhist artifacts from Dubai and Tokyo that were seized by U.S. customs authorities in 2005, he said. He was able to prove the sculptures came from Pakistan by analyzing the age and composition of the stone, and the U.S. returned them, said Kakar.
Neil Brodie, an expert on the illicit trade in antiquities at the University of Glasgow, said it was critical for authorities to put pressure on private collectors and museums whose demand for ancient relics is fueling the black market. Some museums, particularly in Italy and Britain, have become more diligent about avoiding antiquities with questionable histories, but those in the U.S. have much more work to do, he said.
‘‘You are losing the archaeological record on the ground by the destruction that is entailed by digging these relics out,’’ said Brodie.
Associated Press writers Sherin Zada in Mingora, Pakistan, Adil Jawad in Karachi, Pakistan, and Ashok Sharma in Chennai, India, contributed to this report.