US Returns 248 Antiquities Valued At $15 Million To India
The US on Thursday returned 248 antiquities, including a 12thcentury bronze Shiva Nataraja, valued at an estimated USD 15 million to India, the “largest” such transfer of antiquities to the country.
“This extraordinary assemblage of artifacts, recovered from five different criminal investigations over the past decade, embodies the timeless cultural and cosmic bridge between ancient and modern-day India,” Manhattan District Attorney (DA) Cy Vance Jr said in a statement.
The US returned the 248 antiquities valued at an estimated USD 15 million to India during a repatriation ceremony attended by India Consul General Randhir Jaiswal and US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Deputy Special Agent in Charge Erik Rosenblatt.
Mr. Jaiswal expressed gratitude to the Manhattan DA’s Office for its support and cooperation in the return of antiquities to India. “We look forward to our continued engagement to strengthen cultural ties between India and the United States,” he said.
Mr. Vance said the event also serves as a potent reminder that individuals who “maraud sacred temples” in pursuit of individual profit are committing crimes not only against a country’s heritage but also its present and future.
He said the 248 pieces is the “largest such transfer of antiquities” to India. Among the items returned, 235 were seized under the investigation of Jailed art dealer Subhash Kapoor.
The District Attorney’s office said that for many years, the Manhattan DA’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit, along with law enforcement partners at HSI, investigated Kapoor and his co-conspirators for the illegal looting, exportation, and sale of ancient art from Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and other nations.
Kapoor and his co-defendants generally smuggled looted antiquities into Manhattan and sold the pieces through his Madison Avenue-based gallery, Art of the Past. From 2011 to 2020, the DA’s Office and HSI recovered more than 2,500 items trafficked by Kapoor and his network.
The total value of the pieces recovered exceeds USD 143 million. HSI New York Acting Special Agent in Charge Ricky Patel said these artifacts are part of India’s rich cultural heritage and they are going back to the people of India.