A priceless seventh-century bronze statue will be returned to Vietnam thanks to the meticulous work of specialist Met detectives and US Homeland Security.
The statue was allegedly stolen in 2008 from the My Son Sanctuary, a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Quang Nam province of Vietnam.
It was bought in 2009 by Douglas Latchford, who has since died, a dealer and collector of artefacts from across Southeast Asia.
He was at the centre of a long-running investigation into the alleged looting of cultural property from the 1970s onwards. This investigation, led by US Homeland Security, continues.
DC Ray Swan, of the Met's Art and Antiques Unit, said: “We have been working closely with our US counterparts and the Vietnam Embassy in London. We are delighted that this phase of the investigation has now come to a positive conclusion.
“We are happy that this part of Vietnam’s heritage will be returning to its home fifteen years after it was stolen, and are proud of the Met's role in its recovery.
"It is particularly fitting that this should take place this year, which marks fifty years of diplomatic relations between the UK and Vietnam”.
The statue is 2m tall, weighs 250kg and represents the Hindu Goddess Kali Durga.
In 2017 an investigation was opened into Douglas Latchford by US Homeland Security officials, in New York, over the alleged theft of antiques.
As part of this a formal request was made to the Met for their assistance. Douglas Latchford died in 2020.
The statue was handed over to officials at the Vietnam Embassy in London in a ceremony on Wednesday September 13.