New York Met museum to repatriate 15 looted artifacts to India
The artifacts span the first century BCE to the 11th century CE.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced on Friday that 15 sculptures, trafficked by Subhash Kapoor who owned the former Manhattan-based gallery Art of the Past, will be returned to the Indian government.
Kapoor was sentenced by a court in India last November to ten years in prison for illegally looting artifacts from the country, including the 15 sculptures spanning the first century BCE to the 11th century CE.
The Department of Homeland Security was first notified in 2015 by the museum regarding the looted artifacts, three years after Kapoor was issued an arrest warrant by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, followed by documents to have him extradited and face charges in the US in 2020.
A year later, 235 antiquities were seized and returned during the probe into Kapoor's trafficking to India.
A spokesperson for the Met released in a statement that the Met "is committed to the responsible acquisition of archaeological art and applies rigorous provenance standards both to new acquisitions and to works long in its collection."
The spokesperson added, “The museum is actively reviewing the history of antiquities from suspect dealers. The museum values highly its long-standing relationships with the government of India and is pleased to resolve this matter.”
Online catalog listings show 72 works in the museum's collection with Kapoor in their provenance, and an exhibition was even held back in 2009 showcasing drawings Kapoor donated.
Just last week, the Manhattan District Attorney's office announced that it returned 12 looted antiquities to Turkey, some of the looted objects were displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is undergoing investigation this week after a report came out showing that over 1,000 objects in its collection were looted.
At least 1,109 pieces in the Met's collection were linked to their previous owners who have been convicted of crimes, which include looting and trafficking.
Less than half of these pieces had available records, which display how they left their countries of origin.