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Posts Tagged ‘chasing aphrodite’

If ever there is a term for heights of negligence - this would be it !! No further proof is required for the utter disregard for our great Nation’s cultural treasures by the so called Custodians. We had broken the news of the Sripuranthan stolen Ganesha currently in the Toledo Museum previously.

Earlier today we also brought out the other dubious exhibit - Pala dynasty Varaha

But now we have a statement from the Museum


Subhash Kapoor Acquisitions Under Review

Subhash Kapoor, a second generation antiquities dealer and owner of Art of the Past Gallery on Madison Avenue in New York City, was arrested in Germany on Oct. 30, 2011 and extradited to India on July 14, 2012 to face charges of illegal exportation, criminal conspiracy and forgery. Art of the Past was in business for 35 years, selling Asian antiquities to a large roster of Museum clients, including the Toledo Museum of Art.

The Toledo Museum of Art, like many museums across the country, acquired objects from Mr. Kapoor in the period from 2001-2010. The most significant of the eight acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art from Mr. Kapoor is a Ganesha figure. After the 2006 Ganesha purchase, Mr. Kapoor gifted 56 small terracotta idols to the Museum. The purchased items have been on public display. The gifted items have never been on public display.

On July 18, 2013 the Museum received a copy of an Indian police report that includes photographs of 18 metal idols stolen from Sripuranthan Village in Tamil Nadu. One of the images of a Ganesha figure closely resembles the Ganesha purchased by the Museum in 2006 from Art of the Past. At the time of purchase consideration, the Museum received a provenance affidavit and the curator personally spoke to the listed previous owner. The object was also run through the Art Loss Registry with no issues detected.

On July 24, 2013 TMA Director Brian Kennedy sent a letter to the Consulate General of India in New York, Mr. Sugandh Rajaram, requesting his assistance in researching the Ganesha’s provenance with Indian officials. To date, the Museum has received no response. On February 17, 2014 a letter was sent to Dr. S. Jaishanka, Ambassador of India to the United States, soliciting his assistance. The Museum has not been contacted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement or any other U.S. or foreign government agency in regards to this object and others the Museum purchased from Art of the Past or gifted by Mr. Kapoor.”

The statement also gives the copies of the letters sent by the Museum to the Consulate General of India New York on July 24 !!! which they did not receive any RESPONSE

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They followed up with a letter to the Ambassador of India, Washington DC on Feb 14th

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It is beyond doubt that we are talking of the same bronze

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The Photos in original resolution ( captured by the IFP Pondicherry team in 1994) have been with the Indian Police since 2009 !! How long does it take for the wheels of our official Machinery to move? Or have they decided to abandon the Ganesha as they did with the Sivapuram Somaskanda.

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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

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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.

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The comparison is pretty straight forward

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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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