14 artworks worth around $3 million to be returned by Australia to India

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The National Gallery of Australia on Thursday announced that it will return 14 artworks worth around $3 million from its Asian collection to India.

Of the 14 works of art, 13 works are connected with jailed art dealer Subhash Kapoor, who is in prison on charges of smuggling, and one has been acquired from New York-based art dealer William Wolff.

Reacting to the announcement, Indian High Commissioner to Australia Manpreet Vohra expressed his gratefulness. “The Government of India is grateful for this extraordinary act of goodwill and gesture of friendship from Australia. These are outstanding pieces: their return will be extremely well-received by thegovernment and people of India,” he said.

In a statement, National Gallery of Australia director Nick Mitzevich said that returning the artworks is the right and culturally responsible thing to do.

“We are grateful to the Indian Government for their support and are pleased we can  ow return these culturally significant objects,” he said and added that the handover will take a couple of months.

Some of the artworks that are being returned include bronze and stone sculptures, a painted scroll and photographs. The museum, which had assessed that most of them were stolen, had acquired them between 1989 and 2009.

The artworks have found space in local Australian media, which has termed the collection a ‘source of embarrassment for the NGA’. The NGA statement stated that with the return of the 14 artworks, it will no longer have any works acquired through Kapoor.

This is the fourth time the NGA has returned to India illegally exported works purchased from Kapoor, his associates or from his gallery ‘Art of the Past’.

The list of artworks being returned:The divine couple Lakshmi and Vishnu, 10th-11th century, purchased in 2006Letter of invitation to Jain monks; picture scroll, 1835, purchased 2009The child-saint Sambandar, 12th century, purchased in 1989The dancing child-saint Sambandar, 12th century, purchased in 2005Portrait of donor and priests before ShriNathji, Udaipur, Rajasthan], unknown date, purchased in 2009Guru Das Studio, purchased 2009Hiralal A Gandhi memorial portrait, 1941, purchased in 2009Processional standard, 1851, purchased 2008Portrait of a man, 1954, purchased 2009Goddess Durga slaying the buffalo demon [Durga Mahisasuramardini], 12th-13th century, purchased in 2002Arch for a Jain shrine, 11th-12th century, purchased in 2003Seated Jina, 1163, purchased 2003Maharaja Sir Kishen Pershad Yamin, 1903, purchased in 2010Portrait of a woman, unknown date, purchased in 2009