The National Gallery of Australia will be removing the 14 artworks from its Asian art collection and return them to the Indian government. All 14 artworks were either stolen or smuggled out of India illegally.
All the goods are worth $3 Million and out of those 14, 13 were bought between 2002 and 2010 from Art of the Past, the now-infamous New York gallery run by the dealer and alleged antiquities smuggler Subhash Kapoor and one came from the late New York art dealer William Wolff in 1989.
(Jain Tirtankara marble idol stolen from Mount Abu in Rajasthan)
Out of the 14 artworks, there are six bronze or stone sculptures, a brass processional standard, a painted scroll, and six photographs and in details they are: Child-saint Sambandar, dancing child-saint Sambandar of 12th century belonging to Chola dynasty, Processional standard [‘alam], from Hyderabad, Arch for a Jain shrine, 11th-12th century, Seated Jina, 1163 from Mount Abu region, Rajasthan, The divine couple Lakshmi and Vishnu [Lakshmi Narayana] 11-12th century, Durga Mahisasuramardini, from Gujarat.
(Dancing child-saint Sambandar of 12th century belonging to Chola dynasty)
The NGA has also removed three sculptures sourced from Art of the Past from their collection and have been sent to their home countries. Further research will be undertaken to identify their place of origin before they are repatriated and after this, the NGA will no longer hold any works acquired through Subhash Kapoor in its collection.
In a press release the NGA said, “The decision to return the works is the culmination of years of research, due diligence, and an evolving framework for decision-making that includes both legal principles and ethical considerations.”
(Child-saint Sambandar of 12th century belonging to Chola dynasty being returned to India)
“As the first outcome of this change, the Gallery will be returning 14 objects from the Indian art collection to their country of origin. This is the right thing to do, it’s culturally responsible, and the result of collaboration between Australia and India,” said the NGA Director Nick Mitzevich. He added, “the Gallery would continue its provenance research, including for the Asian art collection, and resolve the status of any works of concern.”
Mr Manpreet Vohra, the Indian High Commissioner to Australia welcomed the decision by the Australian Government and the NGA to return the art-works.
S. Vijay Kumar, art enthusiast and co-founder of India Pride, said the latest round of restitution from the NGA mark an end to our decade long battle with them for transparency and accountability of their Kapoor acquisitions.