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Foreign Governments to Return Stolen Art?

Priceless statues and artifacts that have been looted and smuggled out of India are to be returned by foreign agencies and museums as a gesture of goodwill. These artifacts, were sold for millions of dollars through reputable art-galleries in London and New York over the last few decades.

However, recent efforts by a “secretive organisation” called India Pride Project (IPP), has resulted in their identification and return to India. Using visual-mapping, data-tools and documentary evidence, IPP has been able to publicly establish the illegal nature of the antique pieces and their true provenance to Indian temples and museums.

The Minister for Culture, in a written reply to the Parliament announced that many such statues are to be returned to India soon. Other antiques to be brought back from abroad include Chola bronze statue from Singapore, sculpture of Gadgach Temple, 10th century Dancing Ganesha, Vishnu riding on Garuda, Bharhut sculpture, Uma and Ganesha from USA. He said government has approached the foreign countries through the Missions abroad for the retrieval of Indian antiques.

Earlier in 2014, Australian Prime Minister brought back two statues and gifted them to Prime Minister at Delhi. These statues were stolen from Indian temples in Tamil Nadu and illegally sold to the National Museum of Australia by a New York based dealer.

Some of these statues were traced and matched by the team at India Pride Project who then provided this data to museums and agencies that had purchased stolen property based on false documentation. The team at India Pride Project also liaised with international agencies and media to create civic pressure on these museums to respectfully return these artifacts to India.

A Singapore museum that paid a Madison Avenue art dealer $1.4 million for antiquities of apparently questionable provenance is suing for reimbursement. Asian Civilisations Museum, based in Singapore, and the National Heritage Board of Singapore made the allegations in a March 17 summons with notice in Manhattan Supreme Court against Art of the Past Inc.

Client list includes the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, Calif.; and the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington. The India Pride Project continues to track over 300 such antiques of religious and social importance.

About India Pride Project (ipp.org.in)

IPP is a secret network of art-historians, legal-experts and international-professionals working towards identifying and recovering art & artifacts that have been looted and smuggled out of India. Leveraging on subject-matter-experts and international networks, IPP traces stolen art and conducts back-room negotiations with foreign agencies and museums; to respectfully recover and reinstate Indian art.

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