A worldwide, 15-year investigation led to the repatriation of 307 stolen and smuggled antiquities from India to the United States, valued at nearly four million dollars, most of which were seized from art dealer Subhash Kapoor.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced Monday that 307 antiquities worth nearly $4 million will be returned to the people of India.
Of those, 235 antiquities were seized following an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office against Kapoor, “a prolific looter who has helped out from Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and other countries.
“Today we are proud to join our partners @ManhattanDA to return an incredible 307 stolen works of art and antiquities to their rightful homes in India,” said HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Michael Alfonso (1/3) https://t.co/WrteCGmbGVpic.twitter.com/42vh52hvMo
— HSI New York (@HSINewYork) October 17, 2022
All the antiquities were returned in a repatriation ceremony at the Indian Consulate in New York, attended by Indian Consul General Randir Jaiswal and US Assistant Special Agent in Charge Christopher Lau, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. .
“These antiquities were stolen by several sophisticated and sophisticated trafficking rings whose leaders showed no regard for the cultural or historical significance of these items,” Bragg said, adding that “we are proud to return hundreds of fascinating pieces from India.” Among the returned pieces is the Parikara arch made of marble, dating from the 12th-13th centuries. can be dated to the century. The Parikara Arch, worth around $85,000, was among the antiquities seized from Kapoor.
It first appeared in photographs depicting antiquity in its dirty, pre-restoration state. Those photographs, along with dozens of antiquities lying on the grass or on the ground, were sent to Kapoor by an Indian smuggler, the statement said, adding that the piece was smuggled from India to New York in May 2002.
Kapoor washed the Arch Parikara for the Nathan Rubin – Ida Ladd Family Foundation, who donated the piece to the Yale University Art Gallery in 2007.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York-based Special Agent in Charge Michael Alfonso said the repatriation was the result of “a globe-spanning, fifteen-year investigation where the investigative team followed the leads, followed the money and ultimately seized these five of the antiquities were seized following an investigation into antiquities dealer Nancy Wiener, who pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy and possession of stolen property charges. More than 60 antiquities were stolen from India by several smaller trafficking rings.
The statement added that the district attorney’s antiquities unit, along with law enforcement partners at Homeland Security Investigations, has been investigating Kapoor and his co-conspirators for more than a decade for illegally looting, exporting and selling artifacts from many countries. the world.
Kapoor and his co-defendants routinely smuggled looted antiquities into Manhattan and sold the pieces through his Madison Avenue-based gallery, Art of the Past. Between 2011 and 2022, the DA’s Office and HSI recovered more than 2,500 items distributed by Kapoor and his network. The total value of the recovered pieces exceeds 143 million dollars.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US last year, the United States brought home 157 artefacts and antiquities.
Modi and US President Joe Biden “committed to strengthening efforts to combat the theft, illicit trade and trafficking of cultural objects”. Last year, the United States returned 248 antiquities to India, worth an estimated $15 million.
The DA’s Office issued an arrest warrant for Kapoor in 2012, and in November 2019, Kapoor and seven co-defendants were indicted on charges of conspiracy to traffic in stolen antiquities.
In July 2020, the DA’s office filed extradition papers for Kapoor, who has been in jail in India since 2012 pending the conclusion of his ongoing trial. Five of Kapoor’s associates have already been convicted.
One of the antiques brought back from Vienna with the Vishnu and Laksmi Garuda from the 11th century AD, looted from a temple in central India and smuggled into New York County.
In 2022 alone, the Office returned 682 antiquities to 13 countries, worth more than $84 million. Since its establishment, the Antiques Trade Unit has returned nearly 2,200 antiques to 22 countries, worth more than 160 million dollars.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated news feed.)