TOKYO: Buddhist sect wins Unkei statue

New York, USA - A Buddhist sect based in Tachikawa was behind the stunning 1.4 billion yen paid for an ancient Buddhist statue at a New York auction last week, the group said Tuesday.

The group, Shinnyo-en, said it intends to make the Dainichi Nyorai (great sun Buddha) wooden figure attributed to Unkei, a famed sculptor in the 12th-13th century, available to public museums for research and exhibitions in the coming five years.

The group will build a new facility in western Tokyo and display the statue there in about 10 years.

The group has about 840,000 followers. Department store operator Mitsukoshi Ltd. joined the bid for the 66.1-centimeter-tall statue on the group's behalf.(IHT/Asahi: March 26,2008)