Row over sale of priceless Goan relics to US

Deal reportedly valued at over 270 million euros


The deal, reportedly valued at over 270 million euros, has caused a flutter in Portugal with historians and conservationists there protesting the loss to its heritage.
Both relics belonged to the St Augustine Convent in Old Goa which was built in 1602 and abandoned by the Jesuits in 1833.  Only the excavated ruins of the complex remain today.

The more significant of the two relics that will leave Portugal is a four metres long carved ‘paramenteiro’ from the Church of Our Lady of Grace that has been valued at around 270 million euros, according to the Portuguese paper “Correio da Manha.” The carpentry work in the church within the St Augustine complex had been executed by Portuguese carpenters Diogo Moniz and Manuel Rodrigues who excelled in Christian art.
The second, an altarpiece, said to be worth 77,500 euros has already been sold by the collector Mario Roque to an unnamed American buyer, the newspaper report said. This piece made by famous Goan artist Banuxaia had been gold-plated by Antonio Costa.
The Portuguese collector said he had first approached the Portuguese Orient Foundation with his offer to sell, but they turned him down. The seller has already asked Portugal’s Culture Ministry for a licence to export the two pieces, but said he was still hopeful that a Portuguese buyer would come forward to pick up the more valuable piece for which negotiations are on with an American museum.

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