Thirteen South Asian artifacts have been confiscated by Homeland Security officials after an investigation into the dealings of disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor.
Tim Tai, staff photographer
The Department of Homeland Security recently seized 13 artifacts from the Yale University Art Gallery, or YUAG, believed to have been smuggled in by a disgraced art dealer.
The pieces, of Indian and South Asian origin, were allegedly stolen by art dealer Subhash Kapoor. Kapoor, who was convicted in 2012 of taking antiquities from temples in South India as part of a $100 million international smuggling scheme, then sold those stolen artifacts to major museums in India. art from around the world, including the National Gallery of Australia and the Toledo Museum of Art. . Thirteen of these smuggled artifacts ended up at YUAG, which is recognized as the oldest college art gallery in the Western Hemisphere.
“Yale University, having received information indicating that works of art from its collections were stolen in their home country, delivered the works on March 30, 2022 to the New York District Attorney’s Office, which will coordinate the repatriation of the items later this year,” reads a public statement released by YUAG. “Yale was pleased to work cooperatively with the DA’s office in this important case.”
Antiquities confiscated by the Department of Homeland Security included a 10th-century sandstone statue of Kubera, the Hindu god of wealth, and a marble arch known as Parikara – valued by investigators at $550,000 and $85,000, respectively.
According to the University, the New York District Attorney provided evidence that the forfeited artifacts constituted stolen property in February 2022; the evidence was collected through information not available in the public domain. By the time University officials were made aware of the concerns about the artifacts, Yale had already conducted research into their origins.
According to Homeland Security, the artifacts have been identified as being “connected to Subhash Kapoor or his overseas suppliers”. The 13 artifacts in total have been valued at $1.29 million, with nine of the items donated to the University by the Rubin-Ladd Foundation, which has been linked to the $143 million art smuggling ring by Subhash Kapoor.
This is not the first time Kapoor artifacts have been investigated for links to looting. In 2008, Kapoor sold an 11th-century bronze statue of dancing Shiva worth $5.6 million to the National Gallery of Australia. It was later discovered that the statue was stolen from an Indian temple located in Tamil Nadu.
On March 30, the University voluntarily returned the artifacts when the New York District Attorney’s Office served the items with a search and seizure warrant.
“Yale is committed to provenance research and welcomes information regarding the ownership history of objects in its collection,” said a statement from the university administration, forwarded by YUAG communications coordinator Janet Sullivan.
The Yale University Art Gallery was established in 1832.