LEO: Feb. 19-25


A large plaster Buddha statue was in a modest temple in Bangkok, Thailand from 1935-’55. No one knew its age or origins. In May 1955, workers were struggling to move the heavy, 10-foot icon to a new building on temple grounds when it accidentally broke free of the ropes that secured it. As it hit the ground, a chunk of plaster fell off, revealing a sheen of gold beneath. Religious leaders authorized the removal of the remaining plaster surface. Inside was a solid gold Buddha that’s worth $250 million today. Research later revealed the plaster had been applied by 18th-century monks to prevent the statue from being looted. There’s a comparable sequence unfolding in the weeks ahead. What will it take to free a valuable resource concealed within a cheap veneer?

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