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Subhash Kapoor, a second generation antiquities dealer and owner of Art of the Past Gallery on Madison Avenue in New York City, was arrested in Germany on Oct. 30, 2011 and extradited to India on July 14, 2012 to face charges of illegal exportation, criminal conspiracy and forgery. Art of the Past was in business for 35 years, selling Asian antiquities to a large roster of Museum clients, including the Toledo Museum of Art.
The Toledo Museum of Art acquired objects from Mr. Kapoor in the period from 2001-2010. Concerns about two of the objects acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art from Mr. Kapoor, Stele of Varaha Rescuing the Earth (2001) and Ganesha (2006), have been raised with the Embassy of India, seeking their assistance.
After the 2006 Ganesha purchase, Mr. Kapoor gifted 56 small terracotta idols to the Museum. The purchased items have been on public display. However, none of the gifted items have been on display with the exception of the Kubera rattle, which was on display until April 2014.
On July 18, 2013 the Museum received a copy of an Indian police report that includes photographs of 18 metal idols stolen from Sripuranthan Village in Tamil Nadu. One of the images of a Ganesha figure closely resembles the Ganesha purchased by the Museum in 2006 from Art of the Past. At the time of purchase consideration, the Museum received a provenance affidavit and the curator personally spoke to the listed previous owner. The object was also run through the Art Loss Registry with no issues detected.
On July 24, 2013 TMA Director Brian Kennedy sent a letter to the Consulate General of India in New York, Mr. Sugandh Rajaram, requesting his assistance in researching the Ganesha’s provenance with Indian officials. On February 17, 2014 a letter was sent to Dr. S. Jaishanka, Ambassador of India to the United States, soliciting his assistance. On Friday, February 22, 2014 the Museum was contacted by a representative of the US Justice Department, southern New York region, regarding the items purchased from, and gifted by, Mr. Kapoor. The Museum is cooperating fully with that agency’s ongoing investigation of Mr. Kapoor.
On April 10, 2014 the Museum received documentation on the Ganesha from the Indian government.
During the course of the Museum’s internal review it has become clear that the stone carving of Varaha that the Museum acquired in 2001 has a provenance that is likely falsified. It is unknown if this object was stolen or where Mr. Kapoor may have acquired it. On June 3, 2014 Director Kennedy wrote a letter to the Indian Consulate in New York requesting their assistance in obtaining information on the Varaha.
On October 2, 2014, the Museum announced that it would return the Ganesha to the Government of India.
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