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US Returns 200 Stolen Cultural Artefacts Worth $100 M to India

The artefacts were returned to India at the ceremony of Repatriation of Cultural Property during PM Modi’s US visit.

Published
World
2 min read
The US returned over 200 cultural artefacts estimated at $100 million to India. (Photo: ANI)

On the first day of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, the US returned over 200 cultural artefacts estimated at $100 million to India at the ceremony of Repatriation of Cultural Property.

Items returned included religious statues, bronzes and terracotta pieces, some dating back 2,000 years, looted from some of India’s most treasured religious sites. Among the pieces returned is a statue of Saint Manikkavichavakar, a Hindu mystic and poet from the Chola period (circa 850 AD to 1250 AD) stolen from the Sivan Temple in Chennai, which is valued at USD 1.5 million.

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The statues include a bronze Ganesh and a  Jain figure of Bahubali, among other returned cultural artefacts. (Photo: ANI)
The statues include a bronze Ganesh and a Jain figure of Bahubali, among other returned cultural artefacts. (Photo: ANI)

Also included in the collection is a bronze sculpture of Ganesh estimated to be 1,000-years old.

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It is my hope – and the hope of the American people – that this repatriation will serve as a sign of our great respect for India’s culture; our deep admiration for its people; and our sincere appreciation for the ties between our nations.
Loretta E Lynch, US Attorney General

The majority of the pieces repatriated in the ceremony were seized during Operation Hidden Idol, an investigation that began in 2007 after Homeland Security Investigations special agents received a tip about a shipment of seven crates destined for the US marked as “marble garden table sets”.

It’s the responsibility of law enforcement worldwide to ensure criminal smuggling organisations do not profit from the theft of these culturally and historically valuable items.
Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security

Examination of the shipment in question revealed numerous antiquities. This shipment was imported by Subhash Kapoor, owner of Art of the Past Gallery, who now awaits trial in India.

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