Artefact at Louvre raises doubt

Amaravati relief could have been procured from Subhash Kapoor, says researcher

Updated - December 03, 2021 10:35 am IST

Published - November 11, 2017 11:33 pm IST - Chennai

 Amarnath stupa is displayed in Louvre Museum in Dubai.

Amarnath stupa is displayed in Louvre Museum in Dubai.

The prestigious Louvre Museum has had a grand opening of its Abu Dhabi branch. But even before the inauguration, charges started flying that the artefacts on display include one allegedly procured from antique smuggler Subhash Kapoor.

S. Vijayakumar, a heritage enthusiast of India Pride, said, “We are shocked to notice that the list of prestigious buys include a relief from Amaravati. Our research shows that this was a direct purchase from Subhash Kapoor . Hope they can acknowledge this piece and ensure that the Louvre’s famous clean-up policy starts from home.”

Mr. Vijayakumar claimed that a video of the new museum available on Saturday clearly showed that the Amaravati artefact was very much on display.

This fragment was sold by Subhash Kapoor and it has now been proven that Kapoor’s associates in India sold similar Amaravati fragments to him.

A few of them were secured from the now arrested smuggler Deenadayalan’s godown in Chennai during a raid last year.


Sourcing Amaravati fragments from Chennai, Kapoor reportedly sold to the National Gallery of Australia, Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore and the Louvre.

Following the raid, investigators said Deenadayalan might have been behind the looting of artefacts from Amaravati, an important archaeological site in Andhra Pradesh where he grew up. A few Amaravati architectural fragments were seized from him.

Mr. Vijayakumar claims that the Louvre has not made the provenance paperwork on this purchase public, adding that it was rather evident in the cover photo of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) press release,” Mr. Vijayakumar said.

Art enthusiasts say that the best practice is for such prestigious institutions to review their collections and be inspired by the National Gallery of Australia and take efforts to return objects that are proven to be stolen.

A.G. Ponn Manickavel, Inspector General of Police, Idol Wing, told The Hindu , “If any one provides conclusive evidence that the artefact to be displayed at the Louvre’s new unit in Abu Dhabi was stolen from India, we will not hesitate to initiate action and bring it back.”

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