National Gallery of Australia returns 13 more works purchased from now jailed art dealer Subhash Kapoor to India

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Today, the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) announced that it will repatriate 14 Asian works of art and antiques to the Indian government. All but one of the pieces were from Subhash Kapoor, the disgraced art dealer who is said to be behind an elaborate smuggling operation.

The objects which will soon be transferred include six bronze or stone sculptures, most of which date from the 11th or 12th century; six photographs; a painted scroll from 1835; and a brass processional standard, or alam, created in 1851.

Additionally, three other items acquired through Kapoor’s Art of the Past Gallery in New York City have been removed from view and will be returned once the museum can identify their respective places of origin. Once these works are repatriated, the collection of the institution will no longer contain any element related to Kapoor.

National Gallery director Nick Mitzevich described the move as “the right thing to do” in the official statement, adding: “it is culturally responsible and the result of collaboration between Australia and India” .

With today’s announcement, the museum also introduced its new system for evaluating the provenance of works of art. “If, on a balance of probabilities, it is considered probable that an object has been stolen, illegally excavated, exported in violation of the law of a foreign country, or acquired unethically, the National Gallery will take measures for alienation and repatriation, ”the spokesperson said. museum explained.

“With these developments, provenance decision-making at the National Gallery will be determined by an evidence-based approach assessed on a balance of probabilities, anchored in sound legal and ethical decision-making principles and considerations,” Mitzevich added. .

A bronze processional standard, or alam, from 1851. Courtesy of the NGA.

This is the fourth time that the NGA has ceded work purchased through Kapoor and others related to him to the Indian government, speak Guardian.

The first time occurred in 2014, when the institution returned a bronze sculpture from the 11th-century Chola period, which was reportedly purchased for $ 5.6 million six years earlier. In 2016, the museum repatriated a 3rd century limestone sculpture and a 12th century stone sculpture. Finally, in 2019, the NGA restored two 15th century gatekeepers and a carved figure dating from between the 6th and 8th centuries.

One of the world’s leading antique smugglers, Kapoor is said to have sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of artwork looted over three decades. Many have been to the world’s greatest museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California.

Shanti C. Shah, Hiralal A Gandhi memorial portrait (1941), Indiapurchased 2009

Shanti C. Shah, Hiralal A commemorative portrait of Gandhi (1941). Purchased 2009. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

After a years-long investigation under the code name Operation Hidden Idol, Kapoor was arrested in Germany in 2011, then extradited to his home country of India, where he has since remained imprisoned, awaiting the end of his sentence. trial.

In 2019, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office laid criminal charges against Kapoor and seven co-conspirators, accusing them of exploiting a $ 145 million smuggling ring over three decades.

The full list of returned works, as provided by the museum, is below:

  • Chola dynasty (9th-13th centuries), The holy child Sambandar, 12th century, bought in 1989
  • Chola dynasty (9th-13th centuries), The dancing child-Saint Sambandar, 12th century, purchased in 2005
  • Hyderabad, Telangana, India, Processional norm [‘alam], 1851, purchased in 2008
  • Mount Abu area, Rajasthan, India, Arch for a Jain shrine, 11th-12th century, purchased 2003
  • Mount Abu area, Rajasthan, India, Jina sitting, 1163, bought in 2003
  • Rajasthan or Uttar Pradesh, India, The divine couple Lakshmi and Vishnu [Lakshmi Narayana], 10th-11th century, purchased 2006
  • Gujarat, india, Goddess Durga killing the buffalo demon [Durga Mahisasuramardini], 12th / 13th century, purchased in 2002
  • Rajasthan, India, Letter of invitation to the Jain monks; picture scrolling [vijnaptipatra], ch. 1835, bought in 2009
  • Lala D. Dayal, India, Maharaja Sir Kishen Pershad Yamin, 1903, purchased in 2010
  • Udaipur, Rajasthan, India, untitled [‘Manorath’ portrait of donor and priests before Shri Nathji, Udaipur, Rajasthan], date unknown, purchased in 2009
  • Guru Das Studio, untitled [Gujarati family group portrait], bought in 2009
  • Shanti C. Shah, Hiralal A commemorative portrait of Gandhi, 1941, bought in 2009
  • Venus Studio, India, untitled [Portrait of a man], 1954, bought in 2009
  • Udaipur, Rajasthan, India, untitled [Portrait of a woman], date unknown, purchased in 2009

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