The National Gallery of Australia is aware of media reports that Indian police have arrested the New York based art dealer, Mr Subhash Kapoor, for allegedly trafficking Indian antiquities and that the case against him is currently underway.
At this point, the Gallery has not been contacted by Indian police or any other authority regarding this matter.
The Gallery contacted the Indian High Commission in Canberra earlier this week to ensure a fully co-operative approach will be taken if required.
The Gallery is one of at least 18 major international art institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington DC and the Art Institute of Chicago that have acquired works of art through gifts or purchased from Mr Kapoor.
‘As with all leading art institutions around the world, the Gallery is committed to strict due diligence when acquiring works of art, particularly with regards to determining provenance,’ said Ron Radford AM, Director of the National Gallery of Australia.
The Gallery purchased its Shiva as Nataraja, Lord of the Dance from Mr Kapoor in 2008 following a thorough due diligence process regarding the quality, provenance and time of its departure from India.
‘It is yet to be determined if this work is one of the stolen works as has been speculated about in certain media outlets.
The Gallery has not received any advice from Indian authorities to this effect at this time,’ said Ron Radford.
The Gallery adheres to the principles of the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import and Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The Australian Government is a signatory to this Convention.
The Gallery has commenced plans to undertake a comprehensive re-examination by a panel of internal and external art experts of the supplied documentation as well as the provenance of work acquired from Mr Kapoor, as many international Galleries are also doing.
The Gallery is liaising closely with the Indian High Commission in Canberra to ensure that the internationally accepted protocols for dealing with such issues are followed.There is currently no image available on the NGA website. The earlier collecting history for the piece is unstated.