WEST HOLLYWOOD (KABC) -- A rare Buddha statue worth over $1 million was stolen from a West Hollywood art gallery, and the crime was all caught on video.
It happened at the Barakat Gallery on La Cienega Boulevard early Monday morning. Gallery director Paul Henderson said he immediately noticed something was wrong the moment he walked in.
"I saw that the front gate was completely pulverized ... that put me on edge," he said.
Henderson rushed to watch the footage from the gallery's security cameras and saw a suspect pulling up to the gate in a truck around 2:30 a.m.
"He gets out, starts trying to rope around the gate, yanking on the thing, pulls it open and sure enough, within a couple of minutes, he's going back into our backyard," he said.
Henderson couldn't see much else in the video, saying the footage was a bit grainy, but he did notice the suspect had something in his hand.
"I thought, 'Ok, so we've got a thief on our hands here,'" he said.
It turns out the thief stole one of the gallery's most precious items.
"It's a missive statue and, you know, there's no denying what happened," said Henderson. "I just looked at it and practically had a heart attack."
The 17th - 19th century sculpture is extremely rare, according to Henderson, and it may be one of the only ones available.
"It's a temple sculpture, so it was commissioned to be a central piece in a temple during that period," Henderson said. "It's an important piece. It's a very rare piece. There aren't that many of them on the market. I would say this is the only one out in the open market."
Police said they have since launched a grand theft investigation and the suspect remains on the run.
"Worst case scenario, the guy doesn't know what it is, and decides to use it for metal value," said Henderson. "We really hope that doesn't happen."
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Los Angeles Police Department.