As Buddhist hardliners demand the destruction of paintings depicting the Buddha as a Japanese superhero, a patron announced today that he’s flipped one at auction for a whopping THB600,000 (about US$20,000).
Pakorn Porncheewarakun, who bought at least one of the so-called Ultraman Buddha paintings when the controversy erupted, announced online that he’d sold it to an unidentified buyer for over 130 times what he paid. Meanwhile, a small group filed a legal complaint and want them destroyed for “insulting” religion.
“I feel good, like I got to help society out,” Pakorn told Coconuts Bangkok today, adding that he thought the outcome “quite funny.”
He said he will donate the proceeds to a hospital in Nakhon Ratchasima, where the original artist (whose name has been withheld) studies at a university.
“I’m going to use the money to buy ICU beds for kids… and write the artist’s name as the sole donor,” he added.
As of late this morning, the anonymous buyer had already transferred paid the money according to Pakorn’s Facebook post at around 1pm.
On Wednesday, a group of hardline Buddhists filed a complaint with the Crime Suppression Division against the student for the paintings, which they deem an “insult” to Buddhism. Group leader Charoon Wannakasikanont said that the paintings trampled on the faith of the more than 60 million Buddhists worldwide by mocking the Buddha.
“The state should support and protect Buddhism and must implement measures to prevent the destruction of the religion in every form,” he said, adding that the paintings violated the constitution and law which requires the protection of all religions.
The group also demanded for all the paintings to be destroyed.
Thai officials, however, refused to follow through with the Buddhist group’s demand. Prime Minister Office’s Tewan Liptapallop told reporters that he doesn’t believe the student had any ill intention behind the painting and that he considered the case closed after she apologized to Nakhon Ratchasima’s top monk.
He added that religious offices in every province have been ordered to evaluate paintings before approving them for display.
For her part, the student said that she is a devout Buddhist who wanted to represent the Buddha as a hero. As for the background she painted evoking Louis Vuitton, she said that was to represent how the Buddha protects people from materialism.
Pakorn, who sold the painting, described the hardliners as “pathetic.”
“This painting is not illegal; it just goes against your morals,” he said, adding that he refuses to let his painting be destroyed.
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