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Major Indian Artifact Smuggling Case affects another Museum

August 5, 2012

Controversy … the sculpture Shiva as Nataraja, Lord of the Dance. Photo: National Gallery of Australia.

The fall out from the Subhash Kapoor’s alleged smuggling of artifacts looted from Indian temples has impacted yet another museum, the National Gallery of Australia.  As noted in the Sydney Morning Herald: “Dozens of high-profile museums and galleries have acquired works of art through gifts or purchased from Mr Kapoor, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Musee des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet in Paris and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.”  Now the Australian institution is investigating whether an 11th -12th century sculpture of Shiva as Natajara, Lord of the Dance, which they purchased from Kapoor’s New York-based Art of the Past Gallery is another one to the allegedly looted artifacts.

“It is yet to be determined if this work is one of the stolen works as has been speculated about in certain media outlets. The gallery has not received any advice from Indian authorities to this effect at this time,” [the gallery’s director] Mr [Ron] Radford said.

According to The Hindu: “The Gallery in a release said it purchased the idol from Kapoor “following a thorough due diligence process.” The same news outlet also valued the work at $2 million.

As reported earlier, Kapoor was arrested in Germany and extradited to India for face smuggling charges.  In addition, authorities in the US have seized some $20 million worth of artifacts held in storage facilities for Kapoor and his gallery.


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