Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Largest Antiquities Seizure in American History in New York Comes to Court

The Manhattan district attorney’s office on Tuesday made public the largest antiquities seizure in American history and asked a judge to grant it custody of a startling 2,622 artifacts recovered from storage rooms affiliated with an imprisoned Madison Avenue art dealer. The artifacts, valued by the authorities at $107.6 million, were described in papers filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan as having been looted from India and other places in southern Asia and smuggled into the United States by the dealer, Subhash Kapoor. In their complaint, prosecutors said Mr. Kapoor, 65, had cached the items in an assortment of hideaways in Manhattan and Queens. They were confiscated during raids that began in 2012 and continued through last year.
If the US can prove that any of the seized objects are stolen, they are going to "repatriate" them. US officials "also hope to prosecute Mr. Kapoor, an American citizen, in the United States". Mr Kapoor has for a long time been awaiting trial in India, accused there of taking part in the pillage of ancient temples and other sites "and conspiring with black market traders to send illicit artifacts overseas". Reportedly, "American officials are planning to extradite him after his case is settled". By which time, surely, the statute of limitations could well be nearly up.

Tom Mashberg, 'New York Authorities Seek Custody of Stolen Artifacts Worth Over $100 Million', New York Times April 14th 2015.

UPDATE 15th April 2015
"Federal authorities have identified 18 American museums as owning a total of 500 items sold or donated by Mr. Kapoor" (Chasing Aphrodite). The AAMD has yet to make a stement.

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