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A $100 million (£68m) trove of Hindu and Buddhist treasures has been recovered during raids on a series of storage lock-ups across New York in the largest antiquities seizure in American history.

The 2,622 artifacts are alleged to have been plundered from ancient sites in South Asia and smuggled into the US for sale to museums and collectors by a Madison Avenue art dealer accused of operating an international smuggling racket.

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Four Romanians behind a spectacular art heist in the Netherlands were ordered Monday to pay 18 million euros, with the fate of the stolen masterpieces by Picasso, Monet, Gauguin and Lucien Freud still a mystery.

Seven paintings that were temporarily on display at the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam were stolen in 2012 in a raid that lasted only three minutes, in what the Dutch media called "the theft of the century."

A court in the Romanian capital ordered the heist's mastermind Radu Dogaru, his mother Olga, Eugen Darie and Adrian Procop to reimburse the paintings' insurers.

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On Tuesday, March 4, agents from Homeland Security Investigations raided a Long Island City storage locker belonging to a family member of Subhash Kapoor, a former New York gallery owner accused of smuggling Indian antiquities into the United States. Authorities seized hundreds of Southeast Asian and Indian objects that they valued at $8 million.

Kapoor, a once-established antiquities dealer, ran the Art of the Past Gallery on Madison Avenue from 1974 until his arrest overseas in 2011. In October, Kapoor’s sister was charged with hiding four bronze statues of Hindu deities valued at $14.5 million and in December, Kapoor’s office manager pleaded guilty to six counts of criminal possession of stolen property valued at $35 million.

Kapoor is accused of hiring looters to steal rare bronze and stone sculptures of Hindu deities. U.S. officials claim that he would then illegally import the objects, create false provenances for them, and sell them to collectors and museums. Kapoor is currently awaiting trial in India.    

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Thursday, 13 June 2013 12:01

Police Bust International Forgery Ring

German police arrested two people and raided 28 locations in an effort to halt a multi-million dollar international forgery ring responsible for selling fake paintings they claimed were by Russian avant-garde artists including Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944). Apartments, business premises, and art galleries in Wiesbaden, Mainz, Suttgart, Munich, and Hamburg were searched by police officers. Over 1,000 items were seized including supposed forgeries and sales documents. Additional searches were carried out in Switzerland and Israel.

The forgers are believed to have sold over 400 works ranging in price from $1,332 to over $1 million since 2005, accruing more than $2.7 million. The two men who were arrested are believed to be the leaders of an international group of six counterfeiters. Private collectors in Germany and Spain acquired most of the fakes sold by the forgery ring.

Confidence in the German art market has been unstable since it was shaken by the largest forgery scandal to date in 2011. Art forger Wolfang Betrachhi was sentences to six years in jail after admitting to painting copies of works by Fernard Leger (1881-1955) and Max Ernst (1891-1976) and then selling them as masterpieces to unwitting collectors.  

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Wednesday, 05 December 2012 17:11

Items Stolen From Indian Temples Seized by Authorities

Subhash Kapoor, a once-established antiquities dealer in New York, has been the source of much controversy over the past few months. In July, authorities asked American museums to search their collections for any works obtained from Kapoor after it was revealed that he was in possession of looted antiquities. Allegedly, Kapoor has trafficked more than $100 million worth of stolen Indian artifacts and on December 5, authorities added to his list of thefts after a raid at the Port of Newark.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents with Homeland Security Investigations teamed up with Indian authorities and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and seized more than $5 million worth of artifacts including a 14th century statue of the Hindu deity, Parvati, and four bronze figures from India’s Tamil Nadu region. It is believed that all of the works were stolen from Indian temples. The The Parvati statue has been in the possession of six different dealers and is marred by a litany of false provenances despite being listed on an Interpol database of stolen artworks.

Kapoor ran the Art of the Past Gallery on Madison Avenue from 1974 until his arrest last July. He has donated and sold antiquities to many distinguished institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Kapoor is currently facing criminal charges in India.

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