IMG-20200815-WA0094 (1)India Post News Service

Marking the 74th Independence Day of India festivities in New York, US officials formally handed to Indian officials there, a set of priceless antique artifacts that include a relief of Shiva and Parvati, a marble Apsara and various other idols to Indian officials there.

These antiquities were reportedly stolen and smuggled out of India at different periods over the last three decades, and later sold or acquired by galleries including Nancy Weiner Gallery, Christie’s in New York and Maitreya Gallery in the US.

The start of this reparation began in 2011 with the arrest by Interpol of a certain Subash Kapoor, a Manhattan art dealer. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement had then launched in 2012 ‘Operation Hidden Idol’ that has unearthed over 2000 objects some dated as early as 8th Century and valued at over $100 million in all, from the storage facilities of Kapoor.

Following leads provided by cooperating associates of Kapoor, US authorities traced and seized many antiquities from galleries and auction houses from across the country. The Metropolitan Museum has also sourced artifacts from Kapoor and the last from him to enter their collection was in 2015. The officials at the museum are on a thorough review of 15 artifacts they think might be Kapoor-related objects. Indian officials have appreciated the Met’s decision in this regard.

With the seizing of many antiquities since the start of the US operation, over 200 of these were returned to India in 2016, while others are yet to be pending legal formalities. This is the first time US authorities have disclosed names of auction houses, individuals and galleries in possession of the artifacts, and also their evaluation.

UNESCO estimates more than 50,000 idols and antiquities could have been stolen and illegally removed from India.