Saturday, August 4, 2012

Updates on Two Ongoing Cases...

In regards to the Kapoor and Koh Ker statue cases that I originally assisted in tracking or exposing, here are some excellent updates recently reported. Once my doctorate is finished, I will return to more regular and weighty posts where possible, as well as new topics as they arise!

-Regarding Cambodia vs. Sotheby's, the case now seems to be locked in a legal battle between Sotheby's lawyers and the US District attorney. Sotheby's is still prohibited from moving or selling the piece, and the fight will resume on the 12th April. My colleague Jason Felch reports for the LA times here, and Chasing Aphrodite has a great summary here.

-Regarding the Kapoor case, the global network of his contacts and charitable (tax deductible?) "gifts" is slowly being revealed (see Chasing Aphrodite again here). I predict that as more investigations occur, more antiquities trafficked from outside Tamil Nadu and beyond will be revealed. Does this include the alleged smuggling of Buddhist statuary and antiquities out of Afghanistan, and might they have ended up in galleries such as this one, investigated by Australian authorities once before?

Particularly interesting to me is the presence of antiquities (in the LACMA collection and elsewhere?) gifted by Kapoor's brother Ramesh via his independent Kapoor Galleries. I personally visited this gallery as well in 2010 and can attest that it is smaller is size/scope than Art of the Past and allegedly trades more in historic pieces and paintings. Is Subhash Kapoor merely trying to foist blame onto his innocent siblings and daughter (here), or are they more connected than we realize?

Of course, an investigation is currently underway regarding the National Gallery of Australia's Shiva statue, one of 21 artifacts purchased from Kapoor (see photo above, © The Australian). Several press releases have occurred locally (here, here, and here). I can personally attest to having been briefly interviewed for Mrs. Boland's article in The Australian, but more relevant authorities as to the specific legal matters were also approached. An additional update as of August 6th is that the Art Gallery of NSW has also purchased from Kapoor and is now under investigation (see reporting here). Another relevant question is what will recently proposed Immunity from Seizure acts currently moving through the Australian Parliament mean for repatriation or prosecution? More developments on these cases and others will be broken or shared here as situations warrant.

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