The Australian reported that the National Gallery of Australia has taken down a collection of 13 deity sculptures purchased from Indian-born art dealer Subhash Kapoor estimated to be worth $11 million. As a reminder, Kapoor is accused of orchestrating a $100 million smuggling ring out of his New York gallery, Art of the Past, and is now serving a 14-year sentence in an Indian prison.
The museum is in the process of arranging for the 13 stolen pieces to return to India, though two of them—one called Door Guardians, the other a dancing Sambandar—hang in limbo ownership-wise, as the Indian government has yet to locate their temple of origin from among the thousands that are believed to have been looted.
By way of explanation, NGA director Gerard Vaughan told the newspaper that the enduring display of these artifacts reflected badly upon the entire country. This news marks the latest development in the NGA’s process of ridding itself of Kapoor’s stolen pieces; last year, for example, Australian minister Tony Abbott returned one of the NGA’s dancing Shivas as well as another piece from the Art Gallery of New South Wales during a trip to India. The article additionally noted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel intends to give back a stolen Durga figure acquired from Kapoor by a German museum while visiting India this October.