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28 May 2023, 22:53 HRS IST
  • PTI
  • Prized sculptures returned by Australia on display now

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20:9 HRS IST

(Eds: Correcting figure in para four, last line)

New Delhi, 23 May (PTI)
Three prized sculptures, stolen from India and returned by a prestigious Australian art gallery last year, are now open for public viewing at the National Museum.

The Canberra-based National Gallery of Australia (NGA) had returned the three sculptures -- a 900-year-old stone statue of Goddess Pratyangira, a third century rock carving of Worshippers of the Buddha and another sculpture called the 'Seated Buddha'.

"I am happy that the efforts of the Prime Minister bore fruit. The Australian government has been extremely nice to return these artifacts to us without taking even a single rupee from us," said Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma.

The gallery had bought the rock carving for USD 8,40,000 (Rs 5 cr approx) from an Indian art dealer in 2005. While sculpture of Goddess Pratyangira was acquired for 2,47,500 (Rs 1.6 cr). The Seated Buddha was bought for 5,95,000 (Rs 3.85 cr) .

The NGA had bought first two pieces from disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor in 2005. Kapoor is currently lodged in Trichy Central Prison in Tamil Nadu.

In 2015, the NGA research team examined new photographic evidence from the French Institute of Pondicherry that indicated a sculpture of Goddess Pratyangira, which was bought by the museum, was in India in 1974.

This contradicted the dealer-supplied provenance, suggesting the NGA was supplied with false documentation.

The NGA also found new photographic evidence that indicated the sculpture was in India as late as the 1990s.

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