Subhash Kapoor, an Indian-American antiques dealer, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a court in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Tuesday. Kapoor was described by the Manhattan Attorney as a “prolific looter who helped trade 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 have been found guilty of stealing and illegally exporting 19 ancient idols. Kapoor shipped the items to his once-respected Manhattan gallery known as Art of the Past.
Kapoor was originally arrested by authorities at Cologne Airport in Germany on October 30, 2011, based on an Interpol Red Corner Notice. Kapoor has been held in Tamil Nadu state custody since his extradition to India in 2012 pending the conclusion of his trial.
In 2012, Homeland Security investigations seized $5 million worth of statues allegedly linked to Subhash Kapoor. (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement)
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The news comes just a few weeks after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. announced the return of 307 antiques valued at $4 million – 235 of which were seized in connection with Kapoor – to India .
“These antiques were stolen by several complex and sophisticated trading rings — whose leaders failed to recognize the cultural or historical significance of these objects,” Bragg explained. “Locating these antiquities would not be possible without the cooperation of our law enforcement partners at [Homeland Security Investigations] and the excellent work of our world-class investigators.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. (Portal/David “Dee” Delgado)
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has been investigating Kapoor and his network for over a decade. Michael Alfonso, Acting Special Agent for HSI New York, joined Bragg in praising the findings of the investigation.
“This repatriation is the result of a global, fifteen-year investigation during which the investigative team followed leads, followed the money and eventually confiscated these items to ensure their return to the people of India,” Alfonso said. “The HSI will continue to investigate artifacts with little or no provenance or of questionable provenance and will work with our national and international partners to return these priceless pieces of history to their rightful homes.”
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The artifacts mentioned so far represent only a small part of the total antiquities that Kapoor and his network have traded. From 2011 to 2022, the Manhattan Attorney’s Office and HSI seized over 2,500 items valued at over $143 million.
In July 2020, the Manhattan Attorney’s Office filed extradition documents for Kapoor. When asked to comment on the latest development, a spokesman confirmed that he intends to continue the pursuit of Kapoor.
“We are in contact with the DOJ and Indian authorities on this matter. In 2020, the Bureau filed extradition records for Kapoor and we intend to prosecute him in the United States in accordance with our ongoing investigations,” read a statement emailed to Fox News Digital.
Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut. (Kathryn Donohew Photography)
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Several art museums across the country have worked with state and federal agencies to donate items in their collections related to Kapoor. The New York Times reported that 13 looted artifacts from the Yale University Art Gallery had been confiscated in early 2022. Last month, the Denver Art Museum announced that it had voluntarily repatriated 22 Kapoor-related items from its collection in July 2022.
Jeff Zymeri is a Fox News digital production assistant. Find him on Twitter @jeffzymeri