On Tuesday, Subhash Kapoor, an Indian-American antiques dealer, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a court in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Kapoor was described by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office as a “prolific looter who helped smuggle items from Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and other countries”.
According to the Press Trust of India, Kapoor and five of his accomplices were found guilty of stealing and illegally exporting 19 ancient idols. Kapoor transported the objects to his once-respected Manhattan gallery, known as Art of the Past.
Kapoor was initially detained by authorities on October 30, 2011 at Germany’s Cologne Airport based on a red corner notice issued by Interpol. Since his extradition to India in 2012, Kapoor has been detained in the state of Tamil Nadu pending the resolution of his trial.
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The news comes just weeks after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. announced the return of 307 antiquities valued at $4 million – 235 of which were seized in connection with Kapoor – to India.
“These antiquities were stolen by multiple complex and sophisticated trafficking rings – whose leaders showed no respect for the cultural or historical significance of these items,” Bragg explained. “The search for these antiquities would not be possible without the cooperation of our law enforcement partners at [Homeland Security Investigations] and the exceptional work of our world-class investigators.
Part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has been investigating Kapoor and his network for more than a decade. Acting Special Agent in Charge of HSI New York, Michael Alfonso, joined Bragg in welcoming the results of the investigation.
“This repatriation is the result of a fifteen-year global investigation during which the team of investigators searched for leads, followed the money and ultimately seized these coins, ensuring their return to the people of India,” Alfonso said. . “HSI will continue to investigate artifacts with little or no provenance, or of questionable origin, and will work with our national and international partners to return these priceless pieces of history to their rightful homes.”
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The artifacts mentioned so far represent only a small part of the total antiquities that Kapoor and his network have trafficked. From 2011 to 2022, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and HSI have recovered more than 2,500 exhibits worth over $143 million.
In July 2020, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office filed extradition papers for Kapoor. When asked to comment on the most recent development, a spokesperson confirmed that he intended to press charges against Kapoor.
“We are in contact with the DOJ and Indian authorities regarding this matter. In 2020, the Bureau filed extradition documents for Kapoor and we intend to prosecute him in the United States as part of our ongoing investigation. course,” read a statement emailed to Fox News Digital.
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Several art museums across the country have cooperated with state and federal authorities to return items from their collections associated with Kapoor. The New York Times reported that 13 looted artifacts were seized from the Yale University Art Gallery in early 2022. Last month, the Denver Art Museum announced that in July 2022 it had voluntarily repatriated 22 objects associated with Kapoor in his collection.