Australian art gallery to sue India-born art dealer

Sydney, Dec 6: A prominent art gallery in Australia has threatened to take legal action against India-born US-based art dealer Subhash Kapoor after it was confirmed Thursday that the gallery’s 900-year-old dancing Shiva idol was stolen from India.

The National Gallery of Australia said Thursday that it was aware that Aaron M. Freedman, the office manager for Subhash Kapoor’s Art of the Past, an art dealership in New York, has pleaded guilty to six counts of criminal possession of stolen property in the New York Supreme Court.

The gallery’s Chola-period (3rd century B.C.- 13th century A.D.) Shiva Nataraja idol is among the items listed as being illegally exported from India.

The gallery has instructed its American attorneys to commence legal proceedings against Kapoor in accordance with the provisions of their acquisition agreement.

Kapoor is also facing trial in India for selling stolen artefacts from India to international museums.

The Art of the Past is a major supplier of ancient art to museums and private collectors around the world, including Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Norton Simon Museum in California.

The National Gallery of Australia has said that it will return to India a $5 million bronze sculpture purchased in 2008 from Kapoor.

The gallery is in touch with the Indian high commission since 2012 relating to the case.