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Authorities Return 248 Looted Antiquities to India

Authorities Return 248 Looted Antiquities to India

The Kapoor case has been one of the largest prosecutions for dealing in illicit antiquities in the United States, involving eight defendants and leading to five convictions for criminal possession of stolen property, fraud and other charges between 2013 and this year.

In explaining the length of time Mr. Kapoor has already been in jail, his New York lawyer, Georges G. Lederman, said criminal defendants in India can be detained before trial for up to half the length of the potential maximum sentence if convicted. Mr. Kapoor, who is being held at Trichi Central Jail in Tiruchirapalli, 200 miles south of Chennai, went on trial earlier this year. The prosecution has rested, Mr. Lederman said, and in the coming weeks the defense will begin presenting its case.

Among those who have been convicted in the United States in connection to the case here are Kapoor’s sister, Sushma Sareen, and a former girlfriend, Selina Mohamed, who were both accused of hiding items during the course of the investigation, and two art restorers, Neil Perry Smith, who was extradited from London, and Richard Salmon of Brooklyn, both accused of cleaning and repairing stolen statues and sculptures to remove signs of looting so they would appear to have been in legitimate collections for decades.

The items returned on Thursday, officials said, included a bronze statue of the Hindu god Shiva in a pose of divine dance, from the 12th Century and valued at $4 million; a bronze figure of Shiva Bhikshatana dating to the 16th century and valued at $437,500; and a copper alloy figure of Adikara Nandi dating to the 17th century, measuring 20 inches high and valued at $30,000 to $50,000.

“These ceremonies are always very touching and you can really feel the extreme joy and gratitude, whether it’s a $4 million item or a $4 item,” Mr. Labatt said. “It’s the best part of what we do.”

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