NGA will not contest India’s antique idols claim

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The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) would not contest the Indian government’s request for return of antique idols, the Indian high commission said Tuesday.

Tarun Kumar, first secretary in India’s high commission in Australia, said he expected a decision to be made regarding the return of the artefacts within a month, Canberra Times reported Tuesday.

He added that the deadline has now passed and it has been reported that the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) and the Art Gallery of New South Wales will not contest the Indian government’s request for the return of the idols.

In March, the Indian government formally requested the return of a 900-year-old Dancing Shiva statue from the national gallery and a stone sculpture of the god Ardhanarishvara from the art gallery of NSW, the report said.

Both the artefacts were bought from the New York-based disgraced Indian-origin antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor, currently on trial in India.

The artefacts are in the care of the Australian federal government under the Moveable Cultural Heritage Act, a law which allowed the galleries 30 days to challenge India’s claims.

With those claims uncontested, the decision on the future of both statues rests with the Commonwealth, the report said.

The NGA paid $5 million for the Dancing Shiva statue in February 2008. The statue was one of the 22 items it bought from Kapoor’s Art of the Past gallery for a total of $11 million between 2002 and 2011.

Published in The Indian Sun (Indian Magazine in Australia)

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