Go to contents

The Kansongs put two treasures up for auction

Posted May. 27, 2020 07:41,   

Updated May. 27, 2020 07:41


Who will be the next owner of the gilt bronze standing tathagata statue (National Treasure No. 284) and the gilt bronze standing bodhisattva statue (National Treasure No. 285), which will be up for K-auction’s auction by Kansong Art Museum on May 27?

The National Museum of Korea is reportedly not in a position to bid even though it said it had not made the decision yet. “The prices are way beyond the museum’s budget,” a source from the National Museum of Korea said over a phone call on Tuesday. “I do not see the museum taking part in the auction.”

It has been reported that the starting prices for the two statues will be 1.5 billion won each, and only four billion won is allocated to the museum for the purchase of relics a year. The Cultural Heritage Administration said it would examine the possibility of providing support if necessary, but it would still not be enough to win at the auction. There are also other factors that make the decision more difficult for the museum: The National Museum of Korea has similar artifacts, and the Kansongs might sell national treasures such as a statue of Buddha and its house.

However, some argue that the government cannot buy all the cultural heritage that comes on the market even though it would lead to an unfortunate situation where items of the “Kansong collection” will be scattered.

Both statues that will be up for auction are gold-finished bronze. The gilt bronze standing tathagata statue is from late Silla Dynasty and 38.2 centimeters tall. With his eyes and mouth closed, the Buddha has a simple honest smile on his face, which moves the audience. The clothes look realistic with organized pleats and some draped around his shoulder.

Jong-Yeob JO jjj@donga.com