Two stolen antique idols were led from Tamil Nadu to Kansas City | Catch My Job


The Idol Wing CID of the Tamil Nadu Police has cracked a major case by tracking down two stolen idols of Yoganarasimha and Ganesa belonging to the Venugopala Swamy Temple at Alathur in Tiruvarur district. The sculptures are kept at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, USA.

What makes the case interesting is that these were stolen 50 years ago and their copies were kept in the church as a replacement.

In 2017, Inspector S. Nagarajan from the Hindu Religious and Charitable Foundation filed a complaint at the Vikrapandiyam Police Station regarding the theft of three antique metal idols of Vishnu, Sridevi and Bhudevi, which belong to the Venugopala Swamy Temple but were kept at the Viswanatha Swamy Temple for safety. He also said that the antique idols have been shifted to the Thiruvarur Icon Center (TIC).

ID Wing traced the three idols to the LACMA Museum in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Nagarajan became suspicious of the authenticity of the other TIC idols. The six idols – Yoganarasimha, Ganesha, Dancing Krishna, Dancing Sambanthar, Somaskandar and Standing Vishnu – were found to be fake.

As no pictures of the original idols were available, it made the investigation difficult. The ID Wing managed to get them from the French Pondicherry Institute.

Speaking to The Hindu, Director General of Police, Idol Wing CID K. Jayanth Murali said, “After we received the pictures from the IFP, we started looking for idols similar to the ones we have on the websites of various museums around the world. During our search, we came across some photos of the Yoganarasimha and Ganesha-like idols belonging to the Venugopala Swamy Temple, displayed in the galleries of the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas. The experts also confirmed it.”

According to the police, the six idols were replaced with replicas over a period of 50 years, which are kept at the TIC today.

In the meantime, ownership papers have been submitted to the government to be sent to the US for repatriation of the idols to India.


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