Tourists visit the Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City oin March 2022. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
March 30 (UPI) -- The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City announced Thursday that 15 sculptures linked to former art dealer Subhash Kapoor will be repatriated to India.
Museum officials said in a statement that it had decided to hand the sculptures over to the Indian government after learning that they were illegally removed from the country before being acquired by The Met.
"The Met contacted Homeland Security about its works from Kapoor in 2015 and is pleased to be acting on this matter today as a result of the criminal investigation into Subhash Kapoor by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office," the museum said in the statement.
"Through this cooperative partnership, the museum received new information from the Manhattan DA's office about 15 works of art that made it clear that the works should be transferred, resulting in the constructive resolution."
Kapoor had owned an art gallery in New York called Art of the Past and a side business that specialized in selling antiquities from southeast Asia when he was accused of smuggling and selling stolen artifacts.
He was arrested in October 2011 at Frankfurt International Airport in Germany and extradited the following year to India on charges of having received stolen artifacts from temples in southern India, which he then sold to museums around the world.
Kapoor has been held in an Indian jail ever since and was convicted of receiving stolen property, habitually dealing in stolen property, and conspiracy by a special court in Kumbakonam, India, in November.
He was sentenced to 13 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine.
In the United States, the office of former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. obtained a warrant for Kapoor's arrest in 2012 and he was formally indicted with seven co-defendants in a conspiracy to traffic the stolen antiquities in 2019.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced in November that nearly 20 pieces of art and artifacts tied to the Kapoor investigation were turned over to Pakistan.
The sculptures, which will be repatriated to India, range in date from the 1st century BCE to the 11th century CE, and include terracotta, copper and stone.
The lawsuit comes as institutions and governments around the world work to repatriate work looted from other countries.