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February 12, 2017

Recovered: India's Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) locates more stolen pieces tied to US businessmen Vijay Nanda

Image Credit: News18 India
On February 07, 2017 India's Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) arrested American businessman Vijay Nanda at his residence in the Girgaum Chowpaty area of Mumbai charging him with with smuggling historic artifacts to the United States, Europe and Hong Kong.  Nanda had no legal documentation or registration as an antique dealer with the Archeological Survey of India, yet appears to be a principle player in an organized art smuggling syndicate that successfully moved India's heritage out of the country by hiding objects in shipments of furniture, handicrafts, and in some cases garment consignments. 

Typical Haveli, Gujarat region, India
According to news reports, after a more thorough search of a second floor godown (Indian term for warehouse or storage depot) in central Byculla yesterday, authorities recovered an additional 36 historic objects.  

The objects appear to be ornately carved Mughal style decorative elements that were likely removed from a historic Haveli (the vernacular dwelling type of the region of Gujarat and Rajasthan).  

The colorful objects recovered include 12 late Mughal style carved wooden columns, 12 archway ornaments depicting flowers and birds and 12 wooden pedestals, all protected under the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972.  The disassembled set of decor elements had been packed up securely, and were ready for shipment, though without any legitimate paperwork. 

Nanda has reportedly issued a confessional statement sometime after his arrest. That statement however failed to mention these additional objects secreted away. 

By: Lynda Albertson