National Gallery of Australia: Indian artefacts’ papers forged
Provenance records for three Indian artefacts purchased by the National Gallery of Australia at a cost of almost USD one million are forgeries, according to a media report
According to ‘The Australian’ newspaper, documents filed in New York’s Criminal Court which surfaced after a member of the seller network, Subhash Kapoor, was charged in relation to the smuggling found that provenance records were forged.
Letters of authenticity for the 10th-11th-century stone statue of Lakshmi Narayan, purchased from Kapoor’s Manhattan shopfront Art of the Past in March 2006 for USD 375,000, and a pair of 15th-century Dwarvpala statues bought for USD 495,000 in about August 2005 were among eight items of falsified provenance detailed by state prosecutors in the case against Selina Mohamed, Kapoor’s former girlfriend, the report said.
The artefacts were identified as looted as per an earlier report by The Australian.
A fortnight ago, its USD 5 million, 900-year-old dancing Shiva purchased from Kapoor was confirmed as having been stolen when Kapoor’s shop manager, Aaron Freedman, pleaded guilty in the New York Supreme Court to six counts of trading in stolen property worth USD 35 million.
It is said that the Gallery that plans to sue Kapoor is in talks with the Indian High Commission in relation to the return of the dancing Shiva, which was stolen from Sivan Temple in the Ariyalur district of Tamil Nadu.
All three statues have been on display at the Canberra institution and NGA refused to comment. According to court documents in the latest case, three storage units in Mohamed’s name and linked to Art of the Past were raided last year, yielding more than USD 20 million worth of stolen antiquities as part of a series of police operations that netted artefacts worth USD 100 million.
Kapoor is awaiting trial in India charged with overseeing one of the most extensive smuggling network.
Sushma Sareen, Kapoor’s sister, is alleged to have hidden antiques worth USD 14.3 million, following her brother’s arrest in Germany two years ago.