Indian art dealer’s collection removed from Australian gallery

Sydney, Aug 19 (IANS) The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra has removed from display the artworks collection bought from a disgraced art dealer of Indian origin, a media report said on Wednesday.

The $11 million collection of Subhash Kapoor that included 13 stone, ivory, marble, brass and bronze deities was removed after the national art museum’s director Gerard Vaughan said their continued display was bringing the country into disrepute, The Australian reported.

“They came from Kapoor, he is in prison in India and there is going to be a court case,” he was quoted as saying.

The disgraced former Indian-American art dealer is alleged to have sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of trafficked idols in over four decades.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced she will return a stolen Durga idol bought from Kapoor when she visits New Delhi.

Earlier, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott returned to India a dancing Shiva idol and a stone “Ardhanarishvara” from the National Gallery of Australia.

While some pieces of antiquities are in the process of being returned to India, others, such as the NGA’s “Door Guardians” and a dancing “Sambandar”, are stuck in a legal no-man’s land, the daily said.

“Paperwork establishing a chain of ownership for them has also been shown to be bogus, but until the Indian government can locate a temple, among hundreds of thousands of temples, that they were stolen from, it is powerless to make a claim on them,” the report said.

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