NGA has 14 suspect objects in its Asian Art collection

Former High Court Judge Susan Crennen has found that 14 objects acquired by the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra for its Asian Art collection between 1968 and 2013 do not have adequate history of ownership and are of suspect provenance.

Crennen has conducted an independent review of a total of 32 objects of suspect provenance at the request of the NGA following the so-called “Stolen Shiva Scandal”.

In 2014 the gallery returned a 12th century bronze statue, Shiva as Lord of the Dance, to India. It had bought the object in 2008 from the New York dealer, Subhash Kapoor of Art of the Past gallery who is now awaiting trial in India on charges of conspiracy to commit theft.

The NGA has always insisted that it was a victim of fraud and says many other major institutions around the world are also dealing with fallout from similar fraudulent activity by Kapoor.

The NGA is also returning Seated Buddha to India this year following its pursuit of Nancy Wiener Galleries  which resulted in the refund of the purchase price to the NGA and an undertaking by the New York gallery  to return the sculpture to India.

You can read the full Asian Art Provenance Project report here

The object pictured above is a 3rd century limestone sculpture known as Worshippers of the Buddha from the Amaravati region, Andhra Pradesh, India. It was bought by the NGA for $US595,000 in 2005 from Kapoor’s Art of the Past and was one of the objects investigated by Susan Crennen for suspect provenance.


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