Chappell on Art Theft

Duncan Chappell uses the occasion of a loan exhibition of William Turner works on display at the National Gallery in Canberra—which does not include a couple of well-known stolen-then-recovered works.

He then discusses the persistent problem of stolen art:


The disappointment that art crime aficionados may experience in not being able to view the stolen Turners at the NGA may be assuaged, however, by visiting the gallery’s Indian collection, located almost next door to the Turner exhibit.

There they will find a superb 11th-12th century bronze sculpture of Shiva as Lord of the Dance (Shiva Nataraja), purchased in 2008 from a New York City-based antiquities dealer, Subhash Kapoor, for a sum reputed to be $5 million. Kapoor is now languishing in a jail in Tamil Nadu, India, awaiting trial on charges relating to what is alleged to be one of the most extensive and well organised antiquities trafficking ring in recent times. The Shiva Nataraja is said to be among probably thousands of cultural works plundered systematically over many years from temples and other sacred sites across India and nearby nations by Kapoor and his cohort of thieves. Kapoor seems to have been the ringleader, marketing the stolen objects through his Art of the Past gallery in Manhattan to some of the most prestigious institutions and collectors around the globe.

The NGA admits to owning 21 works of art from Kapoor collected between 2002-2011. The Art Gallery of NSW has also stated that it has acquired six objects from Kapoor.



Chappell, Duncan. “Stolen Works Still a Concern for Galleries.” TheAustralian,transparent

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