National Gallery of Australia to hand back stolen Indian antiquities

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/9/19 9:49:34

The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) will on Monday hand back two controversial ancient Indian statues it purchased from disgraced antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor.

In 2005, the NGA purchased a 900-year-old stone statue of Goddess Pratyangira and a rock carving of people worshiping Buddha which dates back to the third century from Kapoor at a cost of almost 1 million US dollars.

After it was revealed the pieces had been stolen, the NGA vowed to return the antiquities to India, and, later on Monday, Federal Arts Minister Mitch Fifield will lead an Australia delegation when the gallery hands over the pieces to India's Culture and Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma.

The ceremony will be held at the NGA's Asian gallery which is currently under scrutiny as more than 280 pieces in the gallery are now listed as "insecure" on its official website. According to the NGA, there are unexplained "gaps" in the ownership history of the pieces, meaning some of them may be stolen.

In addition, all 5,000 pieces in the gallery's Asian collection are currently under review in what is the most widespread origin research project ever conducted in Australia.

Both Robyn Maxwell, who was Asian art curator at the NGA when it purchased more than 7.5 million US dollars' worth of antiquities from Kapoor, and Ron Radford, who was the gallery's director when most of the collection was purchased, have since resigned from their positions.

Meanwhile, India's Culture and Tourism minister Mahesh Sharma is in Australia as part of an Australia-wide tour to showcase Indian culture and discuss further trade negotiations between the two countries.

Posted in: Art

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