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Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Yale Museum has surrendered items as part of an investigation into art theft

Law enforcement officers have recovered 13 objects from the Yale University Art Gallery, which they believe were robbed, according to the authorities. An continuing investigation into Subhash Kapoor, a former Madison Avenue art dealer who is suspected of being one of the world’s most prolific antiquities smugglers, has led to the arrest of several of those people, according to the police.

It was announced on Yale’s website that the items had been delivered to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which is conducting the investigation in conjunction with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, on Thursday. The museum had previously stated that the items had been delivered on Wednesday to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

He has been imprisoned in India since 2011 on allegations of stealing, smuggling, and trafficking more than 2,500 South Asian antiquities. Kapoor was once the owner of a well-regarded Manhattan gallery known as Art of the Past. Officials in New York have accused him of directing an international network that trafficked in unlawful artefacts worth more than $145 million over a 30-year period, accusations that are identical to those brought against him in New York. Upon the conclusion of the criminal proceedings in India, an application for his extradition to the United States will be made.

Officials with Homeland Security Investigations and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said they were unable to reveal the specifics of the investigation because of confidentiality agreements. However, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement in which it said that the majority of the artefacts from Yale were “related to either Subhash Kapoor or his international sources.”

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos said that the Artifacts Trafficking Unit has identified nine of the 13 antiquities at Yale as having been unlawfully trafficked by Kapoor in a statement issued on Monday.

Nine of the objects had been presented to Yale by the Rubin-Ladd Foundation, which has contributed works to a number of institutions as well as making donations to cultural and educational groups throughout the United States and Canada.

According to its website, the Yale museum, which was established in 1832 and is widely regarded as the oldest university art museum in the United States, has almost 300,000 pieces in its collection. Aside from the National Gallery of Australia and the Toledo Museum of Art, other institutions that have returned pieces having ties to Kapoor’s work include the Honolulu Museum of Art and the Toledo Museum of Art.

Although Yale had received gifts before Kapoor’s arrest, Vijay Kumar, the founder of an India-based organisation that tracks stolen artefacts and who has been working with investigators, believes that the university should have done more to investigate their provenance after the art world became aware of the extent of looting of Indian artefacts. Investigators discovered that some of the presents Yale received had a pedigree that involved Kapoor’s gallery, according to their findings.

When asked about the scope of Yale’s provenance studies, the university declined to comment. However, the university had put some of the objects on a part of its website that reported works in the collection that had gaps in their provenance, which included some of the items in question.

Among the objects confiscated by investigators was a 10th-century sandstone figure of Kubera, a god of riches, which was appraised at $550,000 by the team that conducted the investigation. Yale University received it as a gift from the Rubin-Ladd Foundation in 2011.

In addition, a marble arch from the 12th or 13th centuries, known as a Parikara, which was valued at $85,000, was turned up to authorities. It was also given to the charity in 2007, according to its website.

Representatives from the charity were unable to be contacted for comment immediately after the incident. Approximately $6.8 million in assets were stated by the charity on its most recent publicly accessible tax return, which was submitted last year and was made public. According to the grant report, the Smithsonian Institution and the New York Public Library were two of 23 organisations that received a total of $126,500 in grant funds from the federal government.

According to the investigators, twelve of the items are believed to have originated in India and one is believed to have originated in Burma.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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