Saturday 16 August 2014

How the Art Gallery of NSW Shiva Was Stolen

The Shiva (The Australian)

INDIAN police have revealed that in 2002, an 1100-year-old Hindu sculpture of Shiva Ardharishvarana with his hands broken off was taken out of the temple building and placed beneath a peepol tree in a Tamil Nadu temple complex along with seven other damaged sculptures for repairs. The solid, 112cm-high stone carving  from Vridhdhagiriswarar Temple was then stolen from the courtyard and eventually smuggled from India to New York. It was then sold by a New York Gallery owner in 2004 to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney Australia for $300,000 (Michaela Boland, 'Looted Shiva left outside for repair', The Australian August 16, 2014).
A temple donor had agreed to pay for the pieces to be repaired and a sculptor had been assigned the task, even though temple authorities had not received ­permission for the undertaking. The antiquities, including the handless Shiva with the bull Nandi, were photographed and then placed beneath a tree. From this spot the deity was stolen; the others were left behind. [...] Within two years of the theft, the Shiva with Nandi had been furnished with a bogus collecting history and sold by New York antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor [...] It was the last of six pieces the Art Gallery of NSW bought from Kapoor over 20 years.
The gallery’s former director Edmund Capon said he had stopped doing business with ­Kapoor in 2004 or early 2005 after becoming aware of his unsavoury reputation.
As is well-known, Kapoor was arrested three years ago and is still awaiting trial in Tamil Nadu. The Ardharishvarana (and a dancing Shiva bought from Kapoor by the ­National Gallery of Australia in 2008 for $5.6 million) were surrendered in April after India requested their return.

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