Thursday, 9 February 2017

Another US Antiquities Dealer Arrested in India

In South Mumbai, India, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has arrested top US-based antiquities dealer of Indian origin after raids at his Gamdevi home and Byculla storage facility reveal 11 antique sculptures valued at millions of dollars, which were destined for sale in global auctions (Vijay Kumar Yadav, ' Mumbai Crime: Indian heritage looter nabbed in Gamdevi   08-Feb-2017)
 Highly-placed sources in the DRI told mid-day that Nanda, who the agency suspects smuggled out and sold over 250 precious antiques and artefacts worth billions of rupees across the world in the last decade, was on several Indian agencies’ radar since long. Nanda was living in the US for the last 30 years as a furniture and garment merchant. He set a company ‘Sangam Importer’ in New York in 2010 and sold old furniture from across the world. He also set up another company ‘Sage Mercantile’, with both acting as fronts for his criminal activities. DRI said Nanda was arrested on his arrival in India a few days ago, a visit he had made to [take] more sculptures out. 
He is believed to have sold sculptures from various temples across eastern and southern India in Korea, Japan, China and Hong Kong, and European and Gulf countries.  he allegedly would:
legitimise them by forging Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) certificates and creating other fake documents. Nanda would smuggle the sculptures out of India by concealing them in furniture or handicraft consignments and then sell them through auctions to art galleries, private collectors and museums. His syndicate has allegedly smuggled Gupta Era gold coins, Post-Mauryan terracotta figurines, Rajputana swords and daggers, Chola bronzes and Tibetan statues. 
He came under suspicion when the DRI got important information on hime"
after scanning emails of his business associate Udit Jain, who ran the Dindayalan syndicate and was arrested by the Chennai DRI recently in connection with smuggling of antiques and ancient paintings.
Apparently at the time of his arrest, there was a shipment to Hong Kong en route:
 Sources in DRI told mid-day that Nanda was in contact with a New York-based suspect through emails, one of which talks about the shipping of a big consignment of ancient Indian sculptures to Hong Kong. The consignment of 13 sculptures that was sent to Hong Kong a few days ago is currently en route. A senior officer said all efforts are being made to trace the consignment and bring it back to India with the help of the relevant agencies.
DRI officers hope that  Nanda’s arrest would lead them to other important people active in the syndicate

(see also:   International art smuggler Vijay Nanda arrested by DRI in Mumbai  NewsX Bureau  8th February 2017).

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