National

Stolen Krishna returns for Janmashtami

With just a week to go for the festival of Krishna Janmashtami, India on August 15 regained possession of a priceless bronze Navaneetha Krishna, thanks to a rare instance of moral courage by an art collector from London. After U.S. authorities charged Indian antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor with possession of stolen property last June, the London-based connoisseur, who had bought a few artefacts from him, came forward to U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), expressing a desire to surrender the pieces. The artefacts were recovered in June this year.

On Thursday, authorities in the U.S. and U.K. formally handed over a lime stone relief, originally from Andhra Pradesh, and the bronze Krishna to the Indian High Commissioner in London. Kapoor is lodged in Tiruchi prison and faces criminal cases for illegally exporting idols and artefacts from temples in Tamil Nadu. He was also charged by U.S. HSI for operating a massive smuggling ring, allegedly run from his New York gallery.

 

Pursuant to an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with participation from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), the art collector whose name was withheld, returned the limestone carved relief and the bronze Navaneetha Krishna.

The two artefacts from India are linked to one of the most prolific art smugglers in the world, who was recently charged in Manhattan, New York. An individual in the United Kingdom who possessed the items came forward to HSI expressing a desire to surrender the pieces.

In June 2019, working with the MPS, the individual cooperated and turned over the artefacts to authorities.

 

A preliminary examination has dated the limestone relief to between the first Century BC to first Century AD. The Krishna bronze is estimated to be from 17th Century from Tamil Nadu. Both items will be subject to further examination by domain experts at a later date to establish their exact period and original location.

The repatriated antiques are just two of more than 2,600 antiquities that have been recovered around the world. The investigation remains ongoing, the Home Land Security Investigation said in a release.

“The cultural significance of artefacts looted from around the world extends beyond a monetary value. The pieces, like those recovered through this operation, are stolen fragments of history; and it is an honour to return them to their rightful home country,” Peter C. Fitzhugh, of the HSI in New York, said.

S. Vijay Kumar, art enthusiast and founder of India Pride that tracks Indian antiques, said there is strong reason to believe that the relief could be from Buddhist Vaddamanu site near Guntur. “The theft from the Buddhist site in Andra Pradesh comes close on the heels of thefts from the Chandavaram site. Very little is known about Vaddamanu site and to see that robbers have targeted the freshly excavated sites is shocking,” he said.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 8, 2021 10:40:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/stolen-krishna-returns-for-gokulashtami/article29103586.ece

Next Story