Investigation of the biggest art scandal involving temple looters in India and a high-profile New York art dealer has unveiled that National Gallery of Australia may have been among the prestigious art galleries duped by the false documentation. This was confirmed after an independent review.
The Canberra-based gallery stated that they found the 22 objects had "insufficient or questionable" documentation of their origin.
Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abott had handed over the two stolen artifacts to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2014 : a 900-year-old Chola-era bronze statue entitled "Shiva as Lord of the Dance (Nataraja) and stone statue of Ardhanariswara (Shiva in half-female form), dating as back as 1100.
Both of these Hindu art treasures allegedly were stolen from temples in Tamil Nadu in southern India and shipped to one Subhash Kapoor, New York based art dealer and smuggler, presently in police custody in Chennai.
Kapoor is considered to be the brain behind the theft of 28 bronzes from two temples in Tamil Nadu in 2006 and 2008, and their illegal export to the US Authorities there have seized $100 million worth of antiquities from Kapoor's gallery and an associated business.
Galleries in Singapore, Germany, the US and Canada have returned art objects to India over the past year, all of them had been clients of Kapoor who ran a gallery in upstate New York. In 2014, three items portraying characters from the Mahabharata, an epic Sanskrit poem of ancient India, were returned by the US, including a rare statue of the Mahabharata’s Duryodhana that was first auctioned in London, way back in 1975.