On Tuesday, Subhash Kapoor, an Indian-American antiquities dealer, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a court in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Kapoor has been described by the Manhattan DA’s office as a “prolific looter who helped traffic 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 convicted of the theft and illegal export of 19 antique idols. Kapoor transported the items to his once respected Manhattan gallery known as Art of the Past.
Kapoor was originally detained by authorities on October 30, 2011 at Germany’s Cologne Airport based on a Red Corner Notice issued by the Interpol. Since his extradition to India in 2012, Kapoor has been in the custody of the state of Tamil Nadu pending the resolution of his trial.
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The news comes only a couple of 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 – the leaders of which showed no regard for the cultural or historical significance of these objects,” explained Bragg. “Tracking down these antiquities would not be possible without the collaboration of our law enforcement partners at [Homeland Security Investigations] and the outstanding work of our world-class investigators.
A part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has been investigating Kapoor and his network for over a decade. HSI New York Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Alfonso joined Bragg in lauding the results of the investigation.
“This repatriation is the result of a globe spanning, fifteen-year investigation where the investigative team chased leads, followed the money and ultimately seized these pieces, ensuring their return to the people of India,” said Alfonso. “HSI will continue to investigate artifacts with little or no provenance, or of questionable origin, and work with our domestic and international partners to return these priceless pieces of history to their rightful homes.”
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The artifacts mentioned thus far only account for a small portion of the total antiquities Kapoor and his network have trafficked. From 2011 to 2022, the Manhattan DA’s office and HSI have recovered over 2,500 pieces of a value exceeding $143 million.
In July 2020, the Manhattan DA’s Office filed extradition paperwork for Kapoor. When asked to comment on the most recent development, a spokesperson confirmed that it intends to continue its prosecution of Kapoor.
“We are in contact in with DOJ and Indian authorities about this matter. In 2020 the Office filed extradition paperwork for Kapoor and we intend to prosecute him in the United States pursuant to our ongoing investigation,” read a statement emailed to Fox News Digital.
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Several art museums throughout the country have cooperated with state and federal authorities to hand over items in their collection associated with Kapoor. The New York Times reported that 13 looted artifacts had been seized from Yale University Art Gallery in early 2022. Last month, The Denver Art Museum announced that in July of 2022, it had voluntarily repatriated 22 Kapoor-associated items in its collection.