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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, like many museums across the country, acquired objects from Mr. Kapoor in the period from 2001-2010. The most significant of the eight acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art from Mr. Kapoor is a Ganesha figure. After the 2006 Ganesha purchase, Mr. Kapoor gifted 56 small terracotta idols to the Museum. The purchased items have been on public display. The gifted items, with the exception of Kubera rattle, have never been on public display.
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. To date, the Museum has received no response. On February 17, 2014 a letter was sent to Dr. S. Jaishanka, Ambassador of India to the United States, soliciting his assistance. The Museum has not been contacted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement or any other U.S. or foreign government agency in regards to this object and others the Museum purchased from Art of the Past or gifted by Mr. Kapoor.
Update: 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 will cooperate fully with that agency’s ongoing investigation.
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