Home Arts The Metropolitan Museum will return to India 15 sculptures sold by trafficker Subhash Kapoor

The Metropolitan Museum will return to India 15 sculptures sold by trafficker Subhash Kapoor

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will donate 15 sculptures ranging from the first century BCE to the 11th century CE to the Indian government, the museum announced today (March 30). All of the items in question were formerly sold by Subhash Kapoor, the convicted smuggler of looted antiquities who once ran the Manhattan-based Art of the Past gallery. Last November, a court in India sentenced Kapoor to ten years in prison for his role in the theft and illegal export of items from the country.

The museum first contacted the Department of Homeland Security in 2015 regarding the items it had acquired from Kapoor. Today’s repatriation announcement follows new information provided to the Met by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which issued a warrant for Kapoor’s arrest in 2012 and filed paperwork to have him extradited to face charges in the United States in 2020. As of October 2021, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office rendered 235 antiques seized while investigating Kapoor’s trafficking to India.

The Met has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years as questions have emerged over hundreds of antiques it has acquired from EgyptTürkiye, India, Cambodia and elsewhere. Just last week, two objects dating from the 3rd century AD which had been on display at the Met – a bronze statue stolen from the archaeological site of Bubo and a sculpture bust looted from the archaeological site of Perge – were income to the Turkish government. A report released earlier this month revealed that more than 1,000 objects in its collection have direct links with persons suspected or convicted of trafficking in looted antiquities.

“The museum is committed to the responsible acquisition of archaeological art and applies rigorous provenance standards to both new acquisitions and long-standing works in its collection,” a Met spokesperson said in a statement. communicated. “The museum is actively investigating the antiquities history of suspect dealers. The museum values ​​its longstanding relationship with the Indian government and is happy to address this issue.

As of this writing, online catalog listings for 72 works in the Met’s collection list Kapoor in their provenance. In 2009, the museum organized an exhibition dedicated to the drawings that Kapoor had donated to the museum.

Many other establishments including the National Gallery of Australiareturned works they had acquired from Kapoor.

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