New York Collector Returns $1 Million Looted Indian Statue Bought from Disgraced Dealer Subhash Kapoor

The statue was voluntarily returned by an unnamed collector. Photo: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement

An unnamed New York collector returned a looted ancient Indian statue on Wednesday after finding out the artwork was stolen from a temple in southern India.

The statue depicting Saint Manikkavachakar, a Hindu poet and mystic, has been valued at $1 million.

According to the New York Times the collector bought the 11th century bronze relic in 2006 for $650,000 from the disgraced Manhattan dealer Subhash Kapoor.

Kapoor is currently awaiting trial in Chennai, India, on charges of running an illicit antiquities smuggling ring—the biggest ever uncovered on American soil.

Former Manhattan antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor is awaiting trial in India Photo:

Former Manhattan antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor is awaiting trial in India

“The theft of another country’s cultural property is a terrible crime that robs a nation of its national heritage,” special agent in charge of HSI New York, Raymond R. Parmer Jr., said in a statement.

“This is especially true when the relics are religious idols as in this case. We commend this collector for his conscious decision to return this stolen idol.”

According to court documents, Kapoor forged provenance papers to dupe the collector into buying the artwork. The buyer voluntarily handed over the artifact to federal agents, and was granted anonymity for his cooperation with authorities.

It is the latest in over 2,600 illicit Indian artifacts linked to Kapoor to be uncovered since 2012. The total value of the dealer’s illegal sales reportedly exceeds $100 million.

The Manhattan district attorney has already filed a request to bring Kapoor to trial in New York when Indian officials have completed their prosecution of the smuggler.

Although several of Kapoor’s former business partners are already cooperating, US investigators are hoping that cross-examining the antiquities dealer will uncover further leads.

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