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National Gallery Of Australia And Other Major Art Institutions Caught In Illegal Art Trafficking Scandal

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The National Gallery of Australia is one of 18 major art institutions around the world that have found themselves embroiled in an international art smuggling case allegedly involving New York art dealer Subhash Kapoor, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Kappor, owner of two Manhattan galleries that sell Indian artifacts, is currently in police custody in southern India. He is accused of trafficking stolen antiques from India and other countries.

One of the Australian gallery's items, a bronze sculpture of the Hindu god Shiva, may be one of the many artifacts that Kapoor illegally acquired. The gallery purchased the statue, called "Shiva as Nataraja, Lord of the Dance," from Kapoor in 2008, stating to various media outlets that all processes of due diligence were observed with regards to the work's provenance. But in an effort to ensure cooperation between the art institute and Indian authorities, the gallery contacted the Indian high commission in Canberra to report its ownership of the statue.

The gallery has yet to receive any information from the commission and it has yet to be determined whether or not the statue was indeed involved in Kapoor's illegal trafficking efforts. ''The gallery has commenced plans to undertake a comprehensive re-examination by a panel of internal and external art experts of the supplied documentation," Gallery director Ron Radford is quoted as stating in The Canberra Times, "as well as the provenance of work acquired from Mr. Kapoor.''

Other major art havens that have either received gifts or purchased works of art from Kapoor include the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C., The Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Read more about Kapoor's sketchy past here.

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