Way back in July 2012 came this piece in the NY Times
“Federal authorities are asking American museums to scrutinize their collections for items that they have obtained from a veteran Manhattan art dealer now accused of possessing antiquities stolen from India and other countries. “
Much water has flowed under the bridge since - what this scrutinize means is subject to interpretation but major galleries and museums have since received the PROOF they sought that they were indeed displaying looted objects. But has enough been done? Until they have their backs to the wall none of them are coming up on their own and disclosing their dealings with the now defunct gallery. If these dealings were not shady shouldn’t they own up and come out in the open with their dealings with the accused dealer - give a list of objects they purchased from the gallery and place on record their respective provenances ( for all that is worth). Why wait for indictments and trails before owning up? Maybe there is still hope that they might get away ?? maybe they have confidence in the lax nature of Indian Authorities and their scant followup ?
Let us start with the Toledo Museum. We have already shown how they have the Ganesha - from the looted temple with authentic proof. Yet we know nothing of how they came into possession of this bronze nor is there any talk of restitution.
We have since found one more exhibit of theirs coming from Art of Past - a Pala Period Varaha
The object number seems to indicate it was purchased in 2001 (Object Number: 2001.14)
Will the museum come forward and provide details of the provenance for this piece ( we are hoping it was not purchased from a diplomat who was stationed in delhi and bought it from a art shop in 1969 !!)
Another object which matches to the Art of the past Catalog is this Lingothbhava ( shiva) in the Birmingham Museum of Art purchased in the year 2008.
The comparison is pretty straight forward
Museums are in essence Institutions of higher learning and we expect them to understand and respect cultural heritage. Their role is to open the minds of the public to the past and inspire younger minds in the pursuit of art history and in that very cause is enshrined a certain noble intention. We hope museums will set an example and live up to the expected higher moral and ethical standards - innocent purchase of looted objects is a mistake - but after knowing that they are tainted, trying to hide casts aspersions on the intent.
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