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Prolific Art Thief Faces Trial in India, U.S.

Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
December 2021
Prolific Art Thief Faces Trial in India, U.S. A bronze Shiva Nataraja, circa 12th century, valued at $4 million, is among 248 antiquities being returned to India from New York City, the vast majority connected to the criminal activities of an art dealer named Subhash Kapoor.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. recently announced the return of antiquities valued at about $15 million during a repatriation ceremony attended by India Consul General Randhir Jaiswal.

Kapoor, 72, former owner of the Manhattan gallery Art of the Past, has been in prison in Tamil Nadu since 2012, charged with stealing and smuggling thousands of antiquities, many of them taken from village shrines across South Asia and eventually sold through the gallery. In July 2020, the Manhattan D.A.’s Office filed extradition paperwork for Kapoor and some of his accomplices.

From 2011 to 2020, the D.A.’s office and Homeland Security recovered more than 2,500 items trafficked by Kapoor and his network. The total value of the pieces recovered exceeds $143 million.

The repatriation ceremony “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,” Vance said.

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Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]



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