NGA files lawsuit over Nataraja statue


A prominent art gallery in Australia has filed a lawsuit against a US-based Indian-origin art dealer over a $5-million deal for a 900-year-old Nataraja statue which was allegedly stolen from India.

The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) is seeking the return of the $5 million it paid for the bronze statue of the dancing Shiva idol plus costs from dealer Subhash Kapoor, The Canberra Times reported Thursday.

Documents filed in the New York County Supreme Court have stated that the Shiva statue was one of 21 works purchased by the gallery from New York-based Kapoor between 2002 and 2011.

The gallery said the dealership fraudulently induced the gallery to buy the statue with false assurances.

Charlotte Galloway, lecturer in Asian art history and curatorial studies at the Australian National University said that proving provenance of Asian art was particularly difficult for collecting institutions.

“If you look at the history of collecting Asian art, when much of the materials came into Western collections from the colonial period, there were no laws or legislations in place which stopped a lot of this material leaving the countries concerned,” Galloway was quoted as saying.

“From that point of view, too, if you go to something like the art-loss register, you’re really relying on images from photographic representations of things, because as I said, we have no great authorship to go with Asian art, so it is a real problem when you’re collecting,” she said

Aaron M. Freedman, the office manager for Subhash Kapoor’s art dealership, Art of the Past, had pleaded guilty to six counts of criminal possession of stolen property in the New York Supreme Court last year.

Kapoor is also facing charges of art smuggling in India.


Indian News in Australia Published in The Indian Sun

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