US returns antiquities to India in stolen art investigation

NEW YORK – U.S. authorities returned about 250 antiquities to India on Thursday in a long-operating investigation of a stolen art scheme.

The objects, worth an estimated $15 million, had been handed over through a ceremony at the Indian Consulate in New York City. The centerpiece is a bronze Shiva Nataraja valued at $4 million, authorities reported.

The ceremony stems from a sprawling probe by the Manhattan district attorney’s office environment and the Homeland Protection Investigations arm of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The investigation has centered on tens of 1000’s of antiquities allegedly smuggled into the United States by seller Subhash Kapoor, who has denied the allegations.

The scenario “serves as a potent reminder that persons who maraud sacred temples in pursuit of unique income are committing crimes not only towards a country’s heritage but also its present and future,” District Legal professional Cyrus Vance Jr. claimed in a assertion.

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Authorities say Kapoor — jailed in India and struggling with prices there pending a U.S. extradition request — made use of his Arts of the Past gallery in New York to targeted visitors looted treasures from India and different countries in Southeast Asia. The investigation has resulted in the restoration of 2,500 artifacts valued at $143 million and convictions of 6 Kapoor co-conspirators, Vance stated.

The Shiva Nataraja bronze was bought by the mom of Nancy Wiener, a gallery operator who pleaded guilty in the circumstance this month to rates of conspiracy and possession of stolen home, authorities said. Nancy Wiener offered looted goods to significant museums in Australia and Singapore, they mentioned.

In June, the district attorney’s workplace returned more than two dozen artifacts worth $3.8 million to Cambodia as portion of the investigation. One more 33 objects have been despatched back again to Afghanistan in April.

Court papers filed in New York claims Kapoor went to remarkable lengths to acquire the artifacts, numerous of them statues of Hindu deities, and then falsified their provenance with forged documents. They say Kapoor traveled the globe looking for out antiquities that had been looted from temples, households and archaeological sites. Some of the artifacts had been recovered from Kapoor’s storage units in New York.

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Kapoor had the things cleansed and repaired to take away any problems from illegal excavation, and then illegally exported them to the United States from their countries of origin, in accordance to U.S. prosecutors.

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