Art Theft Scandal Widens As Art Gallery of NSW Removes Statue India Wants Back

It now seems the Ardhanariswara idol, owned by the Art Gallery of NSW, was stolen from India.

The Art Gallery of NSW has removed a 900-year-old statue from public display following claims that it was stolen, as the scandal over artefacts bought from disgraced New York art dealer Subhash Kapoor widens.

Indian authorities have written to the Australian Government seeking the return of the Ardhanariswara idol, which they believe was looted from a temple in Tamil Nadu. They are also seeking the return of a $5.6 million bronze statue of Shiva, from the same era, which the National Gallery of Australia also bought from Kapoor six years ago.

The NGA removed that work from public display yesterday and today, the Art Gallery of NSW took similar action over its granite work, which it bought for $300,000 in 2004, one of six from Kapoor, who is currently awaiting trial in India over the theft of artefacts.

In a statement issued by Art Gallery of NSW this afternoon, they said “the request for the return of the Ardhanariswara idol is now a matter for the Australian Government through the Ministry for the Arts in the Attorney-General’s Department”.

“The Art Gallery of New South Wales will continue to cooperate fully with the Australian Government and relevant authorities towards a resolution.”