New York, 11 December 2012, Art Media Agency (AMA).
Five looted Indian sculptures were seized in Port Newark, New York, by agents of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
The authorities claim thet they were most probably stolen from a temple in Tamil Nadu (South India) by antique dealer and smuggler, Subhash Kapoor. Among the five sculptures seized is a statue of Parvati estimated at $2.5m. Though it was listed in the stolen works of art database of Interpol, the sculpture passed through the hands of six dealers before being traced, notably thanks to false documents. The authorities did not yet determine if the dealers and past owners were aware of the origin of the statues.
Indian and American governments, Homeland Security Investigations as well as Interpol cooperated in order to track down the stolen objects. As for Subhash Kapoor, he is facing legal prosecution in India to where he was extradited last July. Under the yoke of international arrestation order he was stopped at the Frankfurt airport in Germany. Special agent James T. Haye Jr. in charge of HSI in New York stated that “Kapoor is one of the most prolific commodities smugglers in the world today”. He is responsible of stealing more than $100m worth of Indian artifacts.
Now it depends on the art world to discover the pieces looted by Kapoor. He was indeed known for selling and donating artworks to the museums, notably the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Norton Simon Museum of Pasadena or the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington. Moreover, the Metropolitan Museum of Art owns 81 objects delivered by the smuggler, including 5 imitations. Seizing stolen cultural commodities depends entirely on art community.