US returns 307 stolen antiquities worth $4 million to India

US returns 307 stolen antiquities worth $4 million to India

By AB Wire

The United States has returned 307 antiquities valued at nearly $4 million stolen from India by Subhash Kapoor, a prolific looter, including a 12-13th century artifact, and multiple smaller trafficking networks.

Kapoor and his co-defendants generally smuggled looted antiquities into Manhattan and sold the pieces through Kapoor’s Madison Avenue-based gallery, Art of the Past, according to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr.

From 2011 to 2022, the DA’s Office and US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) recovered more than 2,500 items trafficked by Kapoor and his network. The total value of the pieces recovered exceeds $143 million, Bragg announced Oct 18 in a press release.

One of Kapoor’s pieces being returned is the Arch Parikara, which dates to the 12-13th century and is valued at approximately $85,000. The Arch Parikara first surfaced in photographs depicting the antiquity in a dirty, pre-restoration condition.

These photographs—along with dozens of others depicting antiquities lying in the grass or on the ground—were sent to Kapoor by a supplier of illicit antiquities in India.

The piece was smuggled out of India and into New York in May 2002. Thereafter, Kapoor laundered the Arch Parikara to the Nathan Rubin – Ida Ladd Family Foundation, who donated the piece to the Yale University Art Gallery in 2007.

Another antiquity being returned from another smuggler is the Vishnu and Lakshmi with Garuda dating to the 11th century CE, which was looted from a temple in Central India and smuggled into New York County.

As many as 235 of the antiquities were seized pursuant to the Office’s investigation into Kapoor, who helped traffic items from Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and other countries, according to the press release.

We are proud to return hundreds of stunning pieces back to the people of India,” said Bragg. “These antiquities were stolen by multiple complex and sophisticated trafficking rings – the leaders of which showed no regard for the cultural or historical significance of these objects.”

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