A New York City art dealer named Subhash Chandra Kapoor has turned into what police are calling "the kingpin" of an international smuggling scheme, allegedly stashing $30 million dollars worth of stolen antiquities inside four Upper West Side storage units. According to The New York Post, yesterday authorities found ancient carvings and massive religious statues from India -- artifacts they believe were taken from the sides of temples and other spiritual sites.
Kapoor, an art dealer whose career dates back to the mid-1970s, is serving time in an Indian prison for similar charges, according to The Hindu. He was accused of trafficking stolen idols from the temples of Tamil Nadu, the southern most state in the Indian peninsula. But now the Manhattan DA's Office has issued another arrest warrant, charging Kapoor with receiving stolen antiquities from India and other countries into the United States.
American authorities first searched Kapoor's property back in January of this year, when agents from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of Homeland Security raided two of Kapoor's storage units while he was in German custody. During that search, authorities discovered $10 million dollars worth of stolen work, including a Buddha head measuring in at five feet tall and 1,600 pounds. Yesterday, according to According to The Post, authorities conducted a second raid, recovering a number of items worth over $20 million. Amongst the treasures found in these storage units was a statue of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva that reportedly weighs 3,000 pounds and itself is worth $3.5 million.
According to The Hindu, three Chola Era bronze sculptures were also found amongst the loot, which authorities suspect may have been stolen from temples in Tamil Nadu. Police in India believe Kapoor not only aided in smuggling religious pieces from his home country, but also was involved in trafficking Buddhist artifacts out of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kapoor's Madison Avenue gallery, Art of the Past, has been implicated in the smuggling operation, and another art dealer by the name of Sanjivi Asokan has also been named by The New York Post as a key player in the scheme.
Kapoor was supposedly given up by art dealer Paramaspry Punusamy. The two dealers allegedly ceased communication when they were both involved in a dispute over the acquisition of several Indian idols.
With friends like these, who needs enemies?