In 1994, two men nicknamed “the Falcon” and “the Lion” dug up three Buddhist sculptures in a field in Cambodia. Part of a looting operation, they sold the artifacts for the value of about $100 today, report Mazoe Ford and Anne Worthington of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
“I was around 35 years old when I was asked to dig,” the Falcon tells the ABC. “I was very poor. Our country was still at war.”
By 2011, the bronze statues had arrived at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), which bought them for $1.5 million, according to a statement from the NGA.