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Updated: June 5, 2013 15:31 IST

Now, questions about an idol Down Under

A. Srivathsan
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The 11th century Nataraja idol acquired from Subhash Kapoor in 2008. Photo Courtesy: National Gallery of Australia
The 11th century Nataraja idol acquired from Subhash Kapoor in 2008. Photo Courtesy: National Gallery of Australia

National Gallery, Canberra yet to reveal provenance details of the idol

The trail of the stolen idols has reached Australia. The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra has admitted to The Hindu that it bought an 11th century Chola period Nataraja bronze idol in 2008 from Subhash Kapoor, the U.S.-based antiques dealer arrested in July for his alleged role in idol thefts.

In reply to queries, the Gallery in a release said it purchased the idol from Kapoor “following a thorough due diligence process.”

It contacted the Indian High Commission in Canberra “earlier this week to ensure a fully co-operative approach.” It had not been contacted by Indian authorities. Significantly, an image of the sculpture was removed from the National Gallery website on August 3, subsequent to the queries.

The Gallery did not reply to queries on the provenance details from its acquisition records. Provenance certificate is a record of ownership. Museums are expected to check the provenance of an artefact before acquiring it. The Gallery said in its release it was re-examining the documents supplied by Kapoor.

The New York Post first reported that a Nataraja idol sold by Kapoor, valued at $2 million, was on display at the National Gallery.

Ron Radford, Director of the Gallery, insisted: “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.”

A scrutiny of the Nataraja image from the Sripuranthan temple in Tamil Nadu, recorded by the French Institute Pondicherry, and the image as it appears in the National Gallery of Australia Annual Report (2007-08) reveals a close resemblance.

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Our high Commission offices or office of the consulate generals do not care about answering our general inquiry regarding passport and VISA issues and how can someone expect from incompetent officials serving in our Indian Consular offices abroad? Sadly, it is very hard to get through to their phone lines and one is lucky to get through, he or she will hardly understand their recordrd answers.

from:  Bharat Devmurari
Posted on: Aug 5, 2012 at 17:02 IST

Unlike The Hindu, no other national media covers matters like this, it is sad to see our invaluable tresaure in foreign museams.

from:  SriniG
Posted on: Aug 5, 2012 at 14:41 IST

Well done Hindu - for bringing this information to the public domain. I hope that the
Indian authorities will now show due diligence and act on the information in a
thorough and professional manner.

from:  Srini
Posted on: Aug 5, 2012 at 11:02 IST

If in India we cannot take care of its own treasures and corrupt-at least let the
renowned Australian museum hold this valuable idol. Someone somewhere is always
stealing something and selling the idols from India-always known to the corrupt
local authorities and customs-who also make money.Finders keepers-losers
weepers! At least good money was paid and certainly it was distributed to many bad
pockets in India!.Find out who got the money and leave the idol in a good museum!

from:  Krishna
Posted on: Aug 5, 2012 at 05:45 IST
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