Dr. Erin L. Thompson Associate Professor of Art Crime
Erin L. Thompson holds a PhD in Art History and a JD, both from Columbia, and is an associate professor of art crime at John Jay College (City University of New York). She is an expert in the deliberate destruction of art, analyzing the ways in which this destruction has sometimes harmed and sometimes benefited communities, and in the looting and smuggling of cultural property.
Besides traditional scholarly publications, she has also written for The New York Times, Paris Review, Hyperallergic, and Smithsonian Magazine, and has spoken at many universities as well as on CNN, NPR, BBC, TEDx conferences, and the Freakonomics podcast. She was a Fellow at the Rice University Humanities Research Center from 2017-2018 and a Public Scholar of the New York Council for the Humanities from 2015-2018. Her first book, Possession: The Curious History of Private Collectors (Yale University Press) was named an NPR Best Book of 2016. Her second book, Smashing Statues: On the Rise and Fall of American Public Monuments, will be published by Norton in February 2022.
Riddhi Baba Pradhan Chairperson
Dr. Ramesh Dhungel Historian
Lost Arts of Nepal Anonymous Activist
Lost Arts of Nepal was established in 2015 as a Facebook page to create awareness about the lost and stolen heritage of Nepal. The page was established by an anonymous activist, who started to release the fact and details of lost and stolen heritage that are displayed and stored in museums, institutions and private collections.
The page regularly shares and release information about lost heritage of Nepal.
Pratima Pande Social Worker
Pratima Pandé, MBE, is presently the Director of Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust. She has served as the Founder Member of Cultural Studies Group of Nepal, the Past President of Alliance Française, the Director of Himalayan Bank, and is currently also the Treasurer and Vice-President of Nepal Heritage Society, a position she has held since 1998.
The Honorary Consul General of Italy at present, Pratima Pandé was appointed a Knight of the National Order of Merit in March 2019 by President Emmanuel Macron and the French Government. Also appointed a Member of the British Empire (MBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second for social service and fostering excellent relations between Nepal and Great Britain, her range of philanthropic activities include heritage conservation, art, literature, music, and theatre.
Rabindra Puri Conservation Architect
Rabindra Puri, a cultural heritage conservationist, was the first Nepali to win the UNESCO Asia Pacific Cultural Heritage Conservation Award in 2004.
He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Law, a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, a Bachelor’s Degree in History, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from Tribhuvan University Kathmandu.
He earned the first class grade – top of the university – in his Master’s degree in Development Policy from Bremen University, Germany, and was consequently decorated with Mahendra Vidya Bhushan for it.
Kanak Mani Dixit Vice chairperson
Vice President Kanak Mani Dixit, 65, is a writer and journalist as well as a civil rights and democracy activist. He is a campaigner for open urban spaces, and is also active in the conservation of built heritage.
Dixit helped revive Nepal’s only public bus company and is involved in applying the concept of public transportation to the Valley. A long- time trekker, Dixit also writes on travel related themes. He heads the main archives of the Nepali language, the Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya. He is also active in developing of Southasian regionalism. Having suffered from a fall while trekking in 2001, Dixit helped start the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre.
Believing the power of non-fiction film, he also started and heads the Film South Asia Festival of Documentaries. Dixit is also a translator, an author of political commentaries, and a popular author of books for children. Dixit has received the Prince Claus Award of the Netherlands. His writings are archived at www.kanakmanidixit.com.
Joy Lynn Davis Artist and Researcher
Joy Lynn Davis is an artist and researcher from California currently based in Sweden. She received her BA in Art from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2002, and studied the Tibetan and Nepali languages and Himalayan art history and religions.
During 2010-2015, Davis documented the theft of stone sculptures from the Kathmandu Valley. Her art and research project “Remembering the Lost Sculptures of Kathmandu” documents the theft of sacred sculptures from Nepal and the community’s response to the thefts through a series of paintings, and includes research about the origins and thefts of over 200 murti; an online database and interactive map of thefts; interviews; photographs of sites; and a series of realistic paintings of the stolen murti reimagined in their original sacred sites. The project has been exhibited at the Patan Museum, Nepal Art Council, and universities in the U.S. with sponsorship by UNESCO, the Swiss Embassy of Nepal, and the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics.
She is also the founder of the Himalayan Art and Cultural Heritage Project, a U.S. non-profit aiming to protect the artistic and cultural heritage of Nepal by promoting public awareness, encouraging scholarship, supporting preservation efforts, and facilitating voluntary returns of cultural artifacts.
Satya Mohan Joshi Cultural historian
Satya Mohan Joshi became the first director of the Archaeological and Cultural Department in 1959, and immediately established the Rastriya Naachghar, the national theatre in Kathmandu; Archeological Garden in Patan; Archeological Museum in Taulihawa; and the National Painting Museum in Bhaktapur. He was born in 1919 to Shankar Raj and Rajkumari Joshi, in the Lalitpur district of Nepal. Having learnt his alphabets at home, he later enrolled at Durbar High School in Kathmandu, and then completed his bachelor’s degree at Trichandra College,
After King Mahendra’s coup in 1960, Joshi flew to China where he began to teach Nepali at the Peking Broadcasting Institute. During his stay in China, he carried out research on Arniko, a sculptor of the Malla dynasty who migrated to China in early 1260 AD. He set up the Arniko White Dagoba Gallery in Kirtipur, Kathmandu, using historical artefacts related to Arniko.
He has more than 60 publications in various fields. His notable publications are Haamro Lok Sanskriti (Madan Puraskar in 1956); Nepali Rastriya Mudra (Madan Puraskar of 1960); KARNALIKO LOK SANSKRITI (a research collection); CHARUMATI, SUN KESHARI, MAHIPA: LAKHE, BAGH BHAIRAB (dramas)
The Nepal Rastra Bank issued three new coins of denominations Rs 100, Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,500 in September 2019, featuring Joshi’s portrait, to commemorate his 100th birthday in May 2019.
Juergen Schick Lawyer and Author
Juergen Schick is a German lawyer who lives in Nepal since 1980, where he began to compile a photographic documentation of Himalayan cultures. A main subject of his work was the documentation of the wealth of ancient art in the Kathmandu Valley, which he documented from 1980-87. However, he soon became aware that more and more sacred images of the gods of Nepal, many venerated for centuries, were now stolen from their sites and smuggled out of the country by the international art theft network, ending up in Western museums and collections.
He then decided to create international awareness of what was going on by providing undeniable photographic evidence of the great plunder that was robbing Nepal of its cultural heritage – at the same time collecting the material to support Nepal’s future claims for the return of its looted artworks.
In 1987, he published a documentation of about 140 cases of art theft – at first in his German book “Die Götter verlassen das Land. Kunstraub in Nepal “, being followed, in 1997, by the English version (“The Gods are Leaving the Country. Art Theft from Nepal“). A lot of his photographs he gave also to his friend Lain Singh Bangdel on his request, who published them in his book ” Stolen Art of Nepal“.
Vijay Kumar India Pride Project
Vijay Kumar is a Fellow of the Cost and Management Accountants of India and Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers London (UK). Sculpture and Indian temple art is his passion. He hails from Chennai but moved to Singapore in 2006 as General Manager of a leading Container liner shipping company overseeing their land-side operations in South East Asia. He has been writing extensively on sculpture and art appreciation, targeting early audiences to introduce them to understanding the nuances of Indian sculptural art.
In early 2014, Vijay and his core team of volunteers formed India Pride Project — a social media initiative to combat the rampant looting of Indian art treasures — and have been instrumental in the tracking of high profile trafficked artefacts for the past few years and work closely with various pan global organisations assisting in their restitution efforts, including the dramatic return of the Vriddachalam Ardhanari, Sripuranthan Nataraja from Australia, The Sripuranthan Uma from ACM Singapore, The Kashmir Tengupura Durga from Germany, and the recent US restitutions.
The efforts of the India Pride Project’s #BringOurGodsHome initiative targets to return hundreds of stolen deities back to India. The most recent success for the group was the return on the Nalanda Bronze Buddha from London on August 15th — a case that had baffled experts since 1961. His book titled “The Idol Thief” is a path breaking novel on the chase to nab Subhash Kapoor and details how he and his team assisted global law enforcement in successfully nabbing the man alleged to have been the most prolific antiquities smuggler in recent history.
Sanjay Adhikari Secretary
Advocate Sanjay Adhikari is a Public Interest Litigator for issues pertaining to Natural and Cultural Heritage across Nepal. He is the primary coordinator for the Social Responsive Litigation Clinic and is an associated with Kathmandu School of Law where he teaches Conservation Law.
Among many cases filed and pleaded before the Supreme Court of Nepal to conserve Cultural Heritage, he has successfully achieved landmark orders and judgments to protect various cultural and world heritage sites. They include Hanumandhoka Durbar Square World Heritage Monument Site, Pashupatinath World Heritage Monument Site, Lumbini World Heritage Site, Baghdurbar, Sheelkhana historical palace, and many historical ponds of the Kathmandu Valley.
With respect to environmental litigation, the Nijgadh International Airport issue and the Kalgandaki River issue are two extremely successful cases where he was successful in obtaining a favourable order from the Supreme Court which today are considered landmark judgments for environmental protection. He was among the lead campaigner for the conservation of Rani Pokhari and played an active role in denouncing the Guthi Bill brought by Government. Furthermore, he has filed the F.I.R claiming imprisonment of fifteen years to government officials for omitting their duty and destroying the Cultural Heritage, which is the first of its type in the Nepalese context.
Dilendra Shrestha Treasurer
Dilendra Shrestha has been a key person in carrying out the project to conserve traditional houses and convert them into quality tourist accommodations in Patan with financial support from UNESCO. He has also worked as the Project coordinator of Bandipur Eco Cultural Tourism Project funded by European Union through its ‘Asia Urbs’ Program. He has been instrumental in developing an inner city tour in Patan and currently is an advisor to Lalitpur Metropolitan City in Tourism. In addition, Shrestha is associated with conservation, restoration, and reconstruction works of heritages in Patan in different capacities and is an executive member of Cultural Heritage Conservation Group working on reconstruction of ‘Bhai Degah Temple’ in Patan Durbar Square. Currently, he is also the Vice President of ‘Satya Mohan Academy’.
Shrestha is the founder of Patan Tourism Development Organization and has served as president of the organisation for nine consecutive years until 2004. Shrestha was also associated with ‘Nepal Youth Business Foundation’ as Director until 2011. He had also served as Executive Member of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI).
A Rotarian since 1996 and a member of Rotary Club of Yala, he has also served Rotary District 3290 and 3292 in different capacities and was District Governor of Rotary International District 3292, Nepal and Bhutan in the year 2013-2014. Shrestha is the recipient of ‘Rotary Service Above Self’ Award, the highest award bestowed on Rotarians by Rotary International.
A keen Bridge player, Shrestha also loves to organise Bridge Tournaments.
Rohit Ranjitkar Member
Rohit Ranjitkar is the Director of Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust (KVPT) has managed over 12 Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP)-supported cultural heritage preservation projects in Patan and Kathmandu Durbar Squares, including the 16th century Char Narayan Temple, which is due to be completed later this year. After the 2015 earthquakes, he played an instrumental role in coordinating the earthquake recovery efforts in cultural heritage sites around the Kathmandu Valley.
He has also drawn upon his experiences from the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) in his conservation and heritage reconstruction projects like Patan Durbar Square. He believes in collaborating to achieve the best results and to do so, he tries his best to bring the local community, government, stakeholders, and central government together in seeing some sort of common ground to conserve our heritage sites.
Roshan Mishra Member
Roshan Mishra, a visual artist based in Kathmandu, is the Director at Taragaon Museum. He also manages the Nepal Architecture Archive (NAA), which is run by the Saraf Foundation for Himalayan Traditions and Culture, a patron organization of the Taragaon Museum.
Since 2014, he has been affiliated with the Museum and has been working with its permanent collection, the launching of the Contemporary Art Gallery, and creation of a Library. He has been curating various exhibitions at the Taragaon Museum.
Mishra is a visiting faculty at Kathmandu University for the Research, Documentation, and Archiving course. He initiated the Global Nepali Museum and Mishra Museum, where he is also heavily involved in the archive and documentation process. He studied Fine Arts in Nepal and in the UK, and holds a Master’s Degree in Digital Art.
Alisha Sijapati Heritage Campaign Director
Alisha Sijapati, the Heritage Campaign Director of Nepal Heritage Recovery Campaign, is a journalist. She works in the weekly newspaper, Nepali Times. With experience of over eight years now, she has previously worked as a reporter for The Kathmandu Post and The Himalayan Times daily newspapers.
Most of Sijapati’s stories touch base upon human interest, culture, and heritage. She has also been active on reporting Covid-19 stories and stolen artefacts of Nepal.
Her writings and stories are also closely linked with the Nepal Heritage Recovery Campaign.
Ashish Dhakal Heritage Campaign Coordinator
Ashish Dhakal currently lives in Kirtipur and is deeply passionate about history, language, and repatriation of stolen heritage. He has a BA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, Santa Fe, and has worked with artefacts and education in museums before. At present, in addition to researching on stolen deities and how to bring them home, he is also brushing up on his reading and writing, and is learning editorial skills.