WASHINGTON (TIP): The US plans to return to India a 1,000-year-old historic Chola-era bronze idol of Shiva and Parvati which was stolen and smuggled into America by Indian- American disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor.
The bronze idol, now under the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), would be repatriated to India along with six other sacred Chola bronzes recovered by HSI, officials said.
The idol, looted from a temple in Tamil Nadu and brought to the US illegally, was surrendered by the David Owsley Museum of Art at BallStateUniversity in Indiana to authori-ties. The bronze sculpture is from the Chola Period (860-1279 CE). It was sourced illegally under Kapoor’s direction and smuggled into the US.
Around 2004, the stolen idol was delivered to Kapoor’s for-mer New York City gallery ‘Art of the Past’.
Kapoor had displayed the Shiva and Parvati sculpture for sale and misrepresented the idol’s true origin, the HSI said in a statement.
In 2005, representatives from BallStateUniversity became unwitting victims as Kapoor provided the museum with a false provenance for their artifact.
HSI special agents have tracked many false provenances provided by Kapoor. So far, HSI special agents, in conjunc-tion with the Manhattan prosecutor’s office, have netted in excess of 2,500 artifacts worth more than USD 100 million.
The statute will be shipped to New York where it will serve as potential evidence in ‘Operation Hidden Idols’.
Ultimately it is anticipated the item will be forfeited and repatriated to India.