The Subhash Kapoor case continues to haunt museums around the world. First, Australia revealed that it had purchased a stolen statue from the dealer. Now the first American museum has come forward with seven works that must be returned:
The museum on Wednesday handed over seven rare artifacts that it acquired without museum officials realizing they were ill-gotten items. Agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will take the items back to New York and, from there, eventually return them to the government of India.
U.S. customs agents say the items were taken from religious temples and ancient Buddhist sites, and then allegedly smuggled to the United States by an art dealer. The dealer, Subhash Kapoor, was arrested in 2011 and is awaiting trial in India. Officials say Kapoor created false provenances for the illicit antiquities.
Someone on vacation visiting the museum last year recognized the name of Kapoor’s New York gallery as the source of a 2,000-year-old terra cotta rattle and contacted authorities, said Stephan Jost, the museum’s director. Museum officials then pored over their records and determined six other Indian items had ties to Kapoor.
Kapoor donated one of the items and sold five to the museum, Jost said. One was a gift from someone else.