Showing posts with label Subhash Kapoor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Subhash Kapoor. Show all posts

August 11, 2020

Dying to get away with it: How one defendant's death may thwart justice for the people of Cambodia, Thailand, and India

Douglas Latchford's Facebook page photo
on 9 November 2017, two years
before he was indicted in the USA
Wire fraud,
smuggling,
conspiracy to commit wire fraud,
conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States,
and entry of goods by means of false statements.

These were the five related charges pertaining to the trafficking in stolen and looted antiquities that art expert Douglas A. J. Latchford, a/k/a “Pakpong Kriangsak” had been charged with in the 26-page indictment unsealed by the Department of Justice's U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York last November.  But since deceased persons cannot be prosecuted, the charges against Latchford will likely be dismissed by the court, once his death certificate, attesting to his demise on 2 August 2020, has been submitted to the court through his defense counsel.

Before the investigation into the smuggling and illicit sale of priceless antiquities from Cambodia, Thailand and India cast a long shadow over Latchford's activities, he was once considered a highly respected sponsor in museum circles, a person above reproach.  As such, his donations to the National Museum of Phnom Penh earned him a knighthood with the Royal Order of Saha Metrey Thnak Thib Badin, by the government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, an honor conferred with an award brooch, pinned primarily on foreigners who have rendered distinguished services to the King and to the people of Cambodia.

Apparently unaware of Latchford's role in plundering, Hab Touch, then Director General of the Department General of Cultural Affairs, now Secretary of State and high representative of Phoeurng Sackona, Minister of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in Cambodia once said of Latchford:

“His gifts are very important because these artifacts teach the Cambodian people about their history...We hope his generosity will set a good example for others.”

Other pieces acquired directly or indirectly through Latchford's network also dotted collections at many important art institutions, where, at the time of their acquisitions, questions of provenance didn't seem to bother the museum's renowned curators.

Latchford is known to have donated at least seven objects to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York including the Kneeling Attendants (restituted), the stone head of a Buddha, and the bronze head of a Shiva, both from the 10th-century Khmer Angkor period.  He also donated four statues to the Denver Art Museum.

Other Latchford pieces found their way through direct or indirect sales and donations to US collections at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, the Denver Art Museum and the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth.  Yet, Latchford's purported acts of generosity were not just for USA museums' benefit.  His hands also touched objects lent to the Berlin Museum for Ancient Art and to the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam.

By 2012, the tracks of the looters of the tenth-century site of Koh Ker lead repeatedly to Latchford.  Identified in a civil lawsuit as a middleman in the trafficking of looted Khmer sculptures from “an organized looting network,” he was alleged to have conspired with the London auction house Spink & Son Ltd., to obtain false export permits for the temple antiquities he brokered.

Some of the incriminating evidence against the dealer relates to a series of brazenly written emails.  One sent on 23 April 2007,  which left little to no doubt about Latchford's level of direct involvement and knowledge in transnational criminal activity against cultural artifacts.

Douglas Latchford's Facebook
photo on 28 October 2017,
two years before he was
indicted in the USA
In that email, Latchford is reported to have written:

"Hold on to your hat, just been offered this 56 cm Angkor Borei Buddha, just excavated, which looks fantastic. It’s still across the border, but WOW.”

Attached to the same brazen email was a photograph.  It depicted a freshly (and clandestinely) excavated standing Buddha statue, still freshly covered in dirt. 

A Manhattan DA's complaint also asserted that Latchford contrived to traffic in antiquities that coinvolved another ancient art dealer under investigation, Nancy Wiener. Citing another email seized by investigators, Latchford reportedly told Weiner that he would give bronze statues to his colleague Emma C. Bunker, in exchange for false provenance.  Sadly, and as if facilitating the plunder of Cambodia and Thailand were not enough, Latchford is known to have purchased, a Chandrasekara Shiva, a Chola bronze idol, stolen from the Sripuranthan temple in Ariyalur district of Tamil Nadu through another bad actor in the art market, dealer Subash Kapoor,

The same Emma C. Bunker worked closely with Latchford writing three seminal volumes on the art of the Khmer people: “Adoration and Glory: The Golden Age of Khmer Art,” “Khmer Gold,” and “Khmer Bronzes.”  Flipping through each of these image-heavy books one can easily understand the pathway to profit involving the plundered and missing cultural patrimony of Cambodia.

Asked in a 2014 interview, who held most of the orphan artworks depicted in the books, Latchford was cagey.  He answered saying they were held by collectors who trusted him to keep their identities confidential, leaving many unanswered questions that this dealer now takes to his grave, as sadly, dead men tell no tales.

By:  Lynda Albertson

June 5, 2020

Virtual restitutions in the age of Coronavirus and Australian bush fires


On 27 November 2019 the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison formally announced that as a result of criminal law proceedings underway in India and the United States against New York art dealer Subhash Kapoor, Australia would be voluntarily returning three culturally significant sculptures to India.  Five days later, on 2 December 2019 the Australian Government's Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications - Office for the Arts announced that the three artworks would be formally given back to the Indian authorities during the Prime Minister's visit to India, in January 2020.

Prime Minister Morrison was scheduled to travel to India on 13 January 2020 for bilateral meetings between Australia and India, at the invitation of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.  The pair planned to hand over the artworks and discuss the global economy before Morrison headed on to other meetings in Japan.  Those plans, however, fell by the wayside as Australia battled for control over the country's raging bush fires which continued unabated until mid-February, a result of the country's prolonged drought.

The next hiccup to the scheduled meeting and handover was the world-encompassing epidemic, the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). 


Months later, opting for safety and security over politics, as coronavirus cases in India saw a record single-day jump of 9,304, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi held their first-ever “Bilateral Virtual Summit” on the 4th of June 2020.  This occasion, focused on comprehensive strategic partnerships between India and Australia, and was the occasion to allow Morrison to virtually hand over the pair of 15th century, Vijayanagar dynasty door guardians (Darapala) from Tamil Nadu, and a 6-8th century sandstone statue of the serpent king (Nagaraja) from Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh, in India.



Speaking with S. Vijay Kumar of the India Pride Project, a volunteer organization involved in documenting and tracking stolen Indian artifacts, Mr. Kumar had this to say about the current restitutions:

"The return of the two door guardians, bought by the NGA for USD 495,000 in August 2005 and stolen from Tamil Nadu and the Nagaraja purchased for USD 337,500 in April 2006 from Madhya Pradesh will bring closure to an eight year struggle with the National Gallery of Australia which started with us, along with Mr. Jason Felch exposing the robber photos, showing the objects freshly looted against a vesti and lungi background. We also proved the fake provenance of the certificates issued by Art of Past for these purchases way back in 2015. 

The returns are important as they provide much-needed impetus to the sagging criminal trial of Subhash Kapoor by exposing the nexus between him and his associates. The Nagaraja was smuggled out of India sometime in 1999 by the mastermind of the illicit trafficking network in India who went by the codename "SHANTOO" who we now know is Ranjit Kanwar (but whom has yet to be arrested/traced by Indian law enforcement) but more importantly of the Prakash brothers who ran IndoNepal - who smuggled the two door guardians out of India sometime before 2002.  

These individuals have been named in the case filing on Kapoor in NYC Aug 2019 by US authorities, providing graphic details of how these stolen artefacts  are cleaned by intermediaries - in this case Solomon who has been since charged with abetting this crime for cleaning and removing any trace of dirt, etc from the Nagaraja and also how Subhash Kapoor used an old typewriter and some old stationery to fool the largest public museum in Australia.


The two Dwarapalas will be sent to India's Idol wing of Tamil Nadu which has registered a theft case related to the pair.  The Serpent King will initially go to the Red Fort Archaeological Museum located in the Mumtaz Mahal of the Red Fort in Delhi.

Kumar, Felch, and arts reporter Michaela Boland have long pushed for the examination and return of suspect Kapoor pieces, imploring the NGA to look closely at the provenance of all works in the museum's collection which were purchased by this dealer or his affiliates.  Extradited to India in July 2012, Kapoor remains incarcerated at Tiruchirappalli Central Prison awaiting the conclusion of his trial in India.  Afterward, the 70-year-old would likely be extradited to the United States to face 86 felony counts for allegedly looting $145 million in antiquities over the last 50 years.

By:  Lynda Albertson

August 21, 2019

Restitution: The grassroots work of the IPP pays off again.

Image Credit: Rahul Nangare, 
Indian Revenue Service Diplomat, First Secretary
High Commission of India, London
On August 15, the High Commissioner of India in London accepted the return of two objects looted from India.  The first was a 1st Century BCE - 1st Century CE carved limestone railing, which experts believe may have possibly been stolen from the Buddhist complex at Vaddamānu in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.  The second item, was a 17th century Indian bronze figure depicting the Krishna as Balakrishna, standing on a lotus base.  The Hindu deity is naked except for his jeweled ornaments, dancing with his right leg raised, holding a ball of butter in his right hand.  This statue is believed to have been taken from the area of Tamil Nadu, the Indian state located in the extreme south of the subcontinent.

Both objects were voluntarily relinquished by an unnamed collector said to have purchased the objects via an also unnamed individual, long implicated in illicit trafficking. This unnamed dealer is presumed to be Subhash Kapoor.

For the uninitiated, Vaddamānu in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district might not ring any bells.  But for S. Vijay Kumar, a Singapore-based Indian trafficking expert and co-founder of the India Pride Project, the area is of considerable historic importance and one subject to looting.  ARCA has also noted that excavations in the area have yielded railing pillars, carved in limestone ('Palnad marble), similar to the one that has just been restituted.  One example of such is pictured here. These objects, along with cross-bars, copings, and other architectural elements were used in ancient Vihara and Stupa, some which date as far back as the Mauryan Empire (322 BCE - 185 BCE).  At Buddhist sites such as these, carved stone railings, sometimes square in plan, but more often circular, were used to define the confines of religious sites and could also have been used as decoration to delineate an external processional path.

Both of these recently restituted pieces came to the attention of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) when the London-based collector who possessed them contacted the agency wanting to voluntarily surrender the objects to their rightful home.  The pieces are believed to have been purchased the objects via Subhash Kapoor, a disgraced ancient art dealer arrested in Europe and later extradited.  Kapoor is currently in Indian custody in the high security block of Tiruchirapalli Central Prison in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.  There he awaits trial on criminal cases for illegally exporting idols and artefacts from plundered temples.

On 08 July 2019, the Manhattan District Attorney's office followed suit with the Indian government and filed their own formal criminal charges against Kapoor and seven other co-conspirators.  In the court's documentation,  the well organized smuggling ring is believed to have smuggled $145 USD million worth of objects out of India and in to market countries in an operation believed to have lasted for as long as thirty years. Arrest warrants have been issued for all eight defendants on a total of 213 Counts, ranging from grand larceny to criminal possession of stolen property.  


The co-conspirators listed in the July New York Criminal Complaint for Subhash Kapoor et al are: 

Sanjeeve Asokan - Asokan was arrested and charged as a co defendant to Kapoor in India in March 2009.  According to details outlined in the Indian criminal complaint Subhash Chandra Kapoor vs Inspector of Police, para 3., Asokan's involvement in the illicit trafficking ring extended to driving with individual looters to particular villages in Tamil Nadu in order to identify temples which were vulnerable to theft.  Having identified accessible antiquities ripe for the taking, it is alleged that Asokan then supplied the stolen artworks to Kapoor in the United States.  Shipping the loot in staggered shipments from India to lesson the impact of possibly losing an entire shipment should there be a customs seizure.  While awaiting trial in India Asokan is being detained since 25 March 2009 under the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Slum-Grabbers (Act 14 of 1982).  As a co-conspirator in the New York case he has been charged with 21 Counts including Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the First Degree (9 Counts), Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree (10 Counts), Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree (1 Count), and one Count of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree.

Dean Dayal (also spelled Deen Dayal) - IAs earli as 2016 HSI special agents worked with Tamil Nadu law enforcement authorities to arrest Dayal, and other trafficking co-conspirators in Chennai, India.  As a result of that investigation Dayal was implicated as being one of the principles on the ground behind the actual thefts at targeted temples.  In New York Dayal now faces a total of 5 Counts including Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree (4 Counts) and one count of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree.

Ranjeet Kanwar (now well known as "Shantoo") - Kanwar was named in an earlier criminal complaint in Manhattan Criminal Court, signed by Special Agent Brenton Easter of the Department of Homeland Security against New York art dealer Nancy Wiener. According to statements by a former employee of Kapoor, Kanwar was one of Subhash Kapoor's alleged suppliers of stolen antiquities.  His name appears on a computer disk file folder that contained at least three pictures of  looted Seated Buddha #1 found at the Sofia Bros. Storage, in New York County, a storage facility rented by Subhash Kapoor. Kanwar faces a total of 4 Counts in New York including Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the First Degree (1 Count), Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree (2 Counts), and one Count of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree.

Vallabh Prakash - In November 2016 authorities in Indian reopened a then 11-year-old case with the help of HSI special agents, which served to identify the smugglers of the now repatriated religious stone idol of Vriddhachlam Ardhanari. Vallabh Prakash and his son, two antique dealers in Mumbai, operated Indo-Nepal Art Centre, a gallery which offered the stolen Ardhanari to Subhash Kapoor and who together smuggled the statue into the United States. Kapoor later sold this idol with false paperwork to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2004.  Father and Son were arrested in India in November 2017. Vallabh Prakash now faces a total of 11 Counts in New York including Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree (10 Counts) and one Count of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree.

Aditya Prakash - As mentioned above in November 2016 authorities in Indian reopened a then 11-year-old case with the help of HSI special agents, which served to identify the smugglers of the now repatriated religious stone idol of Vriddhachlam Ardhanari. The son of Vallabh Prakash, Aditya Prakash, was co-proprietor of the Indo-Nepal Art Centre along with his father.  Arrested together with his father in 2017 several cases are still pending against the duo in Nellai, Palavur and Viruddhachalam. It is believed that many of the stolen idols from the temples in Tamil Nadu were smuggled through the involvement of this family, including 13 idols from the Sri Narambunatha Swamy Temple, Pazhavoor in Tirunelveli district on the Tirunelveli-Kanniyakumari border.  Aditya Prakash faces an additional 11 Counts in New York including Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree (10 Counts) and one Count of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree.



Subhash Kapoor himself is listed in a total of 86 Counts in the recent New York charging document.  His charges include Grand Larceny in the First Degree (1 Count), Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the First Degree (16 Counts), Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (13 Counts), Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree (50 Counts), Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (1 Count) Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree (3 Counts), Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree (1 Count) and one Count of Scheme and Defraud in the First Degree.

Before Kapoor's arrest on 30 October 2011 at Frankfurt International Airport for the charges he faces in India and his subsequent extradition from Germany to India on 14 July 2012, the influential dealer was widely feted in New York art circles.  In connection with his business, he maintained contacts around the globe, in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Bangkok, Bangladesh, Dubai, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan, with several of his associates implicated in shipping and selling stolen objects supplied with fake provenance to hide their illicit origin. At the height of his operation, Kapoor personally visited Tamil Nadu frequently which underscores the intimacy of the collector-dealer-smuggler-looter network as it relates to these cases.

Reflective of and similar to the recent restitution, Kapoor's name has already been tied to looted antiquities from Andhra Pradesh, the zone where the limestone railing returned via the UK originates from.  In 2016, a 3rd century CE stone panel, illegally exported from India, originating from the Satavahana-era Buddhist Complex of Chandavaram. was also returned to India by the National Gallery of Australia.  In that instance, the museum stated that it had been duped into purchasing the carving from Kapoor’s Art of the Past gallery for $595,000 USD in 2005 after the dealer provided themuseum with falsified provenance documentation indicating that the object had left the country of origin before the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.  That object was later clearly identified as having been stolen from the Chandavaram site museum in 2001.


Terracotta Rattle in the form of a Yaksha 
Metropolitan Museum Accession Number: 1990.309
Likely as a result of the increased pressure by grassroots organizations such as India Pride Project and law enforcement and prosecutors pressing formal charges against actors in the US, UK and India, two museums in the United States are finally taking action in evaluating the ethics of retaining prized antiquities within their collections, which are likely tied to Kapoor's illegal activities. According to an article in the New York Times, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has at least 15 antiquities known to be directly or indirectly associated with Subhash Kapoor which have been acquired after 1990.

The first, the terracotta rattle pictured at left in the form of yakshas (male nature spirit), dates to the 1st Century BCE Shunga period, comes from the archaeological site of Chandraketugarh in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is documented in the Met's collection with no other provenance aside from a passing mention that it was purchased from Kapoor's now shuttered Madison Avenue gallery, Art of the Past.

At the time of Kapoor's arrest in Europe, the Met's management and curatorial staff showed little interest whatsoever in reviewing the legitimacy of the Kapoor linked pieces within their collection.  This despite the spartan provenance which accompanied many of his objects and the fact that it has been proven in other instances that the network falsified provenance documentation.

Now, perhaps in hindsight, and in the wake of recent embarrassing seizures, including an Egyptian mummiform coffin, inscribed in the name of Nedjemankh, an Italian Bell-Krater by Python and a Lebanese marble head of a bull it seems that the Met has finally decided it might be prudent to rethink its stance on some of its art acquisitions from India.

Image Credit:  S. Vijay Kumar
Via Twitter 8 February 2019
Likewise on 20 August 2019 it was finally announced that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art had come round to deaccessioning its own contested Buddha.  First identified by India Pride Project in February 2018 and related to the same theft as the restituted Nalanda Buddha identified at Maastricht's TEFAF in 2018, LACMA had, until recently, resisted acknowledging that the bronze in their collection was stolen 58 years ago.  This despite the fact that the bronze was matched via an image India Pride Project had obtained of 14 objects stolen from the Nalanda Archaeological Museum of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in Nalanda, Bihar, India in 1961.  Despite this overwhelming evidence, it took almost a year and a half of pressuring the museum,  pursuing India’s claim, for LACMA to decide to deaccession the stolen bonze.

All too often, even when faced with proof of illicit origin, museums weigh the rarity or price of their acquisition above the ethical responsibility of voluntarily restituting objects found to have passed through the illicit market.  When they do, they overlook the cumulative cultural cost of lost art to poorer and more vulnerable source countries such as, in this case, India.  It is critical to remember that each and every object stolen or looted, whether or not the statute of limitations has expired, presents a loss to the source nation's cultural patrimony, and when there are many objects plundered, as can be seen within this one trafficking network, each of these losses has a cumulative negative effect.

Those working in the black market bank of the fact that many sculptures stolen from small villages are less likely to be reported to the police, and if they are reported, that not much is achieved because little documentation is made outlining the details surrounding the theft or the object itself making it difficult to determine the actors involved.  Thankfully illicit antiquities researchers, and now more often key prosecutors, like those in New York, are willing to consider the evidence collected by diligent researchers and scholars, as well as reviewing the historic records of civil servants, even retired ones, in order to access overlooked details like old photographs and museum records which can sometimes help determine in determining if the provenance provided to contested pieces is fact or fiction.

By:  Lynda Albertson




March 5, 2017

India arrests Udit Jian, business associate and accomplice to accused American businessman Vijay Nanda


One month after India's Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) arrested American businessman Vijay Nanda at his residence in the Girgaum Chowpaty area of Mumbai and charged him with with smuggling historic artifacts to the United States, Europe and Hong Kong, Indian authorities have arrested his business associate and accompliceUdit Jain. 

Not his first brush with the law, Jain was also taken into custody by Chennai authorities in October 2016 for forging Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) certificates for the octogenarian smuggler, Govindaraj Dheenadhayalan (alternatively spelled "Deenadhayalan"). Dheenadhayalan was arrested in June 2016. 

In addition to serving as a middleman for Dheenadhayalan and Nanda, Jain is believed to have been procuring artifacts, stolen from temples, for Nanda and others, many of which were then exported to the Far East. 








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

February 8, 2017

How do you go about dismantling an Indian antiquities trafficking ring? One trafficker at a time.

Over the last year, officers of the Idol Wing–CID attached to the Tamil Nadu 
Economic Offences Wing (EOW) have been busy, dismantling an international network of antiquities smugglers, some of whom have links with the infamous New York-based art dealer on trial in Chennai, Subash Kapoor. 

On October 30, 2011 Kapoor was arrested at Frankfurt International Airport in connection with his role in running a $100 million international smuggling racket.  Extradited from Germany on July 14, 2012, Kapoor currently spends his time between two prisons: the Puzhal Central Prison, a central prison complex located in Chennai (Tiruvallur District) and the Central Prison at Trichy, Tamil Nadu, India. 

Before his arrest, Kapoor maintained contacts around the globe, in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Bangkok, Bangladesh, Dubai, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan, several of whom have been implicated in shipping and selling stolen objects from India, trafficked with fake provenance. At the height of his operation, Kapoor visited Tamil Nadu frequently which underscores the collector-dealer-smuggler-looter network all too clearly. 


May 31, 2016 - Police recieve a tip that stolen antique idols are being packaged for export from a location on Murrays Gate Road in Chennai’s upscale neighbourhood of Alwarpet. Three men are arrested, Maan Singh, "Kumar" and "Rajamani" who have been working for the octogenarian smuggler, Govindaraj Dheenadhayalan (alternatively spelled "Deenadhayalan").

Dheenadhayalan briefly disappears before turning himself in a few days later. 

During the raid of his house, Aparna Art Gallery in Alwarpet, Chennai, and a storehouse, police seized more than 200 ancient idols in bronze and stone, a large stone Nandis, 96 rare paintings, various miniature statues, ivory and wood carvings, lamps, figurines, ornamental pillars and pooja utensils.  

Image Credit: Hindu Existence 
June 04, 2016 - Four days after the search and seizure at his residence, smuggler Govindaraj Deenadhayalan surrenders to authorities. He is remanded into custody. 

June 24, 2016 - Following Deenadhayalan's confession, the Idol Wing CID arrest Mahabalipuram-based smuggler Lakshmi Narasimhan (also known as "Latchu","Lakshminarayanan" and "Narasimhan" ) and seize nine panchaloha idols dating back to Later Chola period (roughly 1,000 years ago).


July 02, 2016 - Following the arrest and subsequent interrogation of Lakshmi Narasimhan,  200 more idols are seized following the execution of a search warrant of the smuggler's gallery and godown.


October 25, 2016 - After further tip-offs, DRI raid the houses of Professor T. M. Balaji at T Nagar and the grandson of Dheenadhayalan, Srikanth Omkaram, at Valasarawakkam after receiving information that several antique idols and artefacts were being stored in their residences. Both men had been implicated as being part of Dheenadhayalan’s organisation.  

While being interrogated by authorities, the duo confess that they were smuggling objects out of the country using fake Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) certificates produced by another accomplice, Udit Jain, a forger from New Delhi.

Objects seized by authorities during the raid included a statue of Brāhmī, a Buddha in sitting posture, the deity Mahavishnu, stone pillar carvings and Tanjore paintings.

Following an alert by the Tamil Nadu DRI, the Mumbai DRI team intercepted Udit Jain in Mumbai and took him into custody. 


November 2016 - Reopening an 11-year-old case, authorities in India, with the help of HSI special agents, were able to identify the smugglers of the now repatriated religious stone idol of Vriddhachlam Ardhanari to two antique dealers in Mumbai. Vallabh Prakash and his son Aditya Prakash, operated Indo-Nepal Art Centre, a gallery which offered the stolen Ardhanari to Subash Kapoor who together smuggled the statue to the United States. Kapoor later sold the idol with false paperwork to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2004.

Their arrest has been linked to the theft of 13 idols from the Sri Narambunatha Swamy Temple, Pazhavoor, Tirunelveli district and are believed to have smuggled antiquities through various routes, including Nepal.


February 6, 2017 - Indian authorities arrest, Vijay Nanda, an American citizen of Indian origin at his residence in Girgaum Chowpatty, in the Girgaon area of Mumbai, charging him with antique smuggling. 

Antiquities recovered from his warehouse in Byculla include statues stolen from various temples in both the eastern and southern India and include six large stone statues of the Hindu god Vishnu, the Buddhist  bodhisattva Padmapani, Varada Ganesha, Awalokateshwara, and figurines of Naga and Nagini as well as terracotta figurines from 1st Century A.D. and bronze figurines of Hindu deities Ganesh and Mahishasura dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.

A local court has remanded Nanda in judicial custody till February 20. 


We couldn't agree more. 

December 26, 2016

Some analysis of the Criminal Complaint against New York art dealer Nancy Wiener


In ARCA's December 25th blog post ARCA published the criminal complaint filed in Manhattan Criminal Court, signed by Special Agent Brenton Easter of the Department of Homeland Security, which indicated the charges presented against New York art dealer Nancy Wiener through her gallery Nancy Wiener Gallery.

Today we have thought to publish the sentencing guidelines should this defendant be convicted of the charges as well as a bit of distilled information about the individuals mentioned in the body of the New York criminal complaint. 

In New York State, Criminal Conspiracy is punishable by law when one acts, agrees, or performs with intent to commit a crime. Depending on the crime committed, a conspiracy charge could be prosecuted either as a NY State crime or as a United States Federal crime.  In this case, a criminal complaint has been brought against Nancy Wiener for:

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in First Degree – NY Panel Law 165.54

A person is found guilty of criminal possession of stolen property in the first degree when he knowingly possesses stolen property, with intent to benefit himself or a person other than an owner thereof or to impede the recovery by an owner, and when the value of the stolen property exceeds $1,000,000. 

The pending case against New York art dealer Nancy Wiener the New York Penal Law 165.54  would be classified as a “B” non-violent felony.  As a potential first time offender, Wiener faces a minimum of one to three years in prison and a maximum of eight and one third to twenty-five years. Probation and community service are not options.

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in Second Degree – NY Penal Law 165.52

A person is found guilty of criminal possession of stolen property in the first degree when he knowingly possesses stolen property, with intent to benefit himself or a person other than an owner thereof or to impede the recovery by an owner, and when the value of the stolen property exceeds $50,000.

The pending case against New York art dealer Nancy Wiener the New York Penal Law 165.52 would be classified as a “C” non-violent felony. As a potential first time offender, Wiener faces no minimum sentence but faces as much as five to fifteen years in prison. Alternate sentences include probation, probation coupled with jail, community service, fines, and a conditional discharge.

There are four legal presumptions associated with New York Penal Law 165.55, the following are the two relevant ones in this case:
  1. A person who knowingly possesses stolen property is presumed to possess it with intent to benefit himself or a person other than an owner thereof or to impede the recovery by an owner thereof. This presumption is often referred to as recent exclusive possession.” There has been a tremendous body of case law addressing this presumption which argues for the position that if an accused has had the exclusive possession of stolen property after a theft crime has been perpetrated and there is evidence or circumstances which show an inability to explain where the property came from, a negative inference may, in fact, be drawn. That inference being that there is a strong likelihood that the accused knew that the property he or she possessed was stolen.
  2. A collateral loan broker or a person in the business of buying, selling or otherwise dealing in property who possesses stolen property is presumed to know that such property was stolen if he obtained it without having ascertained by reasonable inquiry that the person from whom he obtained it had a legal right to possess it.
Conspiracy in the fourth degree – NY Penal Law 105.10(1)

A person is guilty of conspiracy in the fourth degree when, with intent that conduct constituting:
  1. a class B or class C felony be performed, he or she agrees with one or more persons to engage in or cause the performance of such conduct; 

The pending case against New York art dealer Nancy Wiener the New York Penal Law 105.10(1) would be classified as an “E” non-violent felony.  Punishment ranges for this offense range from no jail with probation to up to four years in state prison.

Conspiracy is relatively easy for prosecutors to prove because New York law does not require exact proof of language used in an agreement to commit a crime, and only requires the testimony of one party.  As seen in the complaint we published yesterday, there appears to be sufficient testimony to make this conspiracy charge stick.

Difference between a Criminal Complaint and a Criminal Indictment

A criminal complaint lists the charges that the prosecuting attorney will file against a person. It typically describes the nature of the offense and consists simply of a signed affidavit by the accuser.

A criminal indictment would be a written document, usually presented before a grand jury who decides if the charges warrant further action.  Criminal complaints require sworn testimony given under oath for the courts to move forward with the case.

UPDATE: Checking records at the New York State Unified Court System for this case, it now appears that this defendant has been indicted on Conspiracy in the fourth degree.    The defendant has entered a "Not Guilty" plea and has been released on her own recognisance.  Her next court appearance has been scheduled for February 28, 2017.

Who are the players mentioned in the antiquities looting network outlined in the criminal complaint?

From the content of the criminal complaint issued by New York prosecutors we get a preliminary outline of the pertinent facts alleged in the case that will then be presented in court should Ms. Wiener's case move on to trial.   The portrait painted by prosecutors illustrates what looks to be a complex network of looters, middlemen, and antiquities dealers that suggests the mentioned players have benefited financially from the trade in illicit antiquities for a number of years.

Here is a distilled summary of the key persons mentioned within the criminal complaint

Informant #1 - According to the criminal complaint this cooperating individual is a dealer in illegal antiquities known to the District Attorney. In the complaint Informant #1

  • allegedly implicated Co-Conspirator #1 in the purchase and sale of the Baphuon Shiva from Cambodia.
  • allegedly reported that Nancy Wiener had removed all records of where, when, from whom, and for how much each antiquity was acquired
  • allegedly reported that Nancy Wiener later told informant #1 that the records no longer existed. 
  • allegedly provided information on the Sharod Singh connection with the looted red sandstone relief (“Red Sandstone Couple”), from India, dated to the 1st–2nd Century C.E., 
  • allegedly provided information on the Vaman Ghiya connection with the a stolen mottled red sandstone relief depicting a Bacchanalian scene, dated to the 2nd Century C.E., 
  • allegedly implicated Co-Conspirator #5 in the sale to Doris Wiener of a silver-inlaid gilt-bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara from Northeastern India or Western Tibet (China), dated to 10th-11th C.E.,
  • allegedly reported seeing objects procured by Co-Conspirator #6 the purchased by Nancy Wiener in New York unrestored, unmounted, and/or without bases - classic signs of looting. 

Informant #2 - According to the criminal complaint this cooperating individual is another dealer in looted antiquities known to the District Attorney.  In the complaint Informant #2

  • allegedly provided information on the Naga Buddha
  • allegedly implicated Nancy Wiener in the purchase of Seated Buddha #1 from trafficker Vaman Ghiya
  • allegedly implicated Nancy Wiener in the purchase of Seated Buddha #2 from trafficker Vaman Ghiya
  • allegedly implicated Subpash Kapoor in the purchase and smuggling of the stolen Krishna Dancing on Kaliya (cobra) from Tamil Nadu, India, dating from the Chola Period (11th-12th Century)
  • allegedly implicated Co-Conspirator #4 in the handling and restoration of the stolen Krishna Dancing on Kaliya (cobra) from Tamil Nadu, India, dating from the Chola Period (11th-12th Century)
  • allegedly implicated Co-Conspirator #1 in the purchase of the stolen Krishna Dancing on Kaliya (cobra) from Tamil Nadu, India, dating from the Chola Period (11th-12th Century)
  • allegedly implicated Co-Conspirator #5 as being an antiquities smuggler of Tibetan descent based in Nepal and Hong Kong who was in frequent email contact with Defendant about illicit pieces from Nepal. 
  • allegedly implicated Co-Conspirator #6 and his father as being suppliers of illicit cultural property from primarily Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • allegedly provided information on false provenance provided for Christie's sale created for pieces that passed between Nancy Wiener and Co-Conspirator #6 

Informant #3 - According to the criminal complaint this cooperating individual is another dealer in looted antiquities known to the District Attorney.  In the complaint Informant #3
  • allegedly provided information on false provenance provided by Nancy Wiener for the Red Sandstone Couple
Co-conspirator #1 - According to the criminal complaint co-conspirator #1
  • allegedly is an antiquities dealer based in London and Bangkok
  • allegedly entered into an agreement with Nancy Wiener to purchase and sell a looted Baphuon Shiva from Cambodia, dated to the 11th Century C.E
  • allegedly shipped the Baphuon Shiva to London to be “cleaned, put together, and mounted.”
  • allegedly sold Nancy Wiener a bronze Buddha sitting on a throne of Naga stolen from Thailand or Cambodia, dated to the 10th Century C.E.
  • allegedly falsified provenance along with Nancy Wiener and Co-conspirator 2 for the bronze Buddha sitting on a throne of Naga stolen from Thailand or Cambodia, dated to the 10th Century C.E.
  • allegedly is a male 
  • allegedly admitted in email that he gave Co-Conspirator #2 bronze statues in exchange for false letters of provenance
  • allegedly purchased the Krishna Dancing on Kaliya from Subhash Kapoor
  • allegedly colluded with Nancy Wiener to create appraisal report for the Krishna Dancing on Kaliya 
Co-conspirator #2 - According to the criminal complaint co-conspirator #2
  • allegedly is a female research consultant for an American museum 
  • allegedly falsified provenance along with Nancy Wiener and Co-conspirator 1 for the bronze Buddha sitting on a throne of Naga stolen from Thailand or Cambodia, dated to the 10th Century C.E.
  • allegedly implicated by Co-conspirator #1 who stated he gave Co-Conspirator #2 bronze statues in exchange for false letters of provenance.
Co-conspirator #3 - According to the criminal complaint co-conspirator #3
  • allegedly is a New York-based restorer, 
  • allegedly restored the bronze Buddha sitting on a throne of Naga stolen from Thailand or Cambodia, dated to the 10th Century C.E. despite it having been struck by an agricultural tool, resulting in a jagged break - a sign of looting. 
  • allegedly restored the stolen marble Apsara ceiling panel.
Co-conspirator #4, - According to the criminal complaint co-conspirator #4
  • allegedly is a U.K.-based restorer used by Subhash Kapoor and Co-conspirator #1
  • allegedly restored the Krishna Dancing on Kaliya (cobra) stolen from Tamil Nadu, India, dating from the Chola Period (11th-12th Century).
Co-conspirator #5 - According to the criminal complaint co-conspirator #5
  • allegedly is an antiquities smuggler of Tibetan descent based in Nepal and Hong Kong. 
  • allegedly sold Doris Wiener a silver-inlaid gilt-bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara.
  • allegedly incriminated Doris Wiener for providing false provenance on the silver-inlaid gilt bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara.
Co-conspirator #6 - According to the criminal complaint co-conspirator #6
  • allegedly is a male
  • and his father are allegedly suppliers of illicit cultural property from primarily Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • allegedly grew up in Pakistan and England. 
  • allegedly was implicated in several recorded conversations for shipping large quantities of newly dug-up, stolen antiquities from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Thailand, often via Hong Kong, and then to dealers from around the world.  
  • allegedly was implicated in selling Doris Wiener 14 stolen antiquities
Other individuals who are mentioned in the complaint

Vaman Ghiya - According to the criminal complaint, seized documents and statements made by informant #2 implicate Weiner in the purchase of the Seated Buddha #1 from Vaman Ghiya, someone who was listed as a long-time supplier from India who often used "Shantoo" to sell his looted antiquities. According to seized documents and informant #1, Doris Wiener was allegedly implicated in buying a stolen mottled red sandstone relief depicting a Bacchanalian scene from Ghiya that Wiener then allegedly falsely claiming that her mother had acquired from a private collection in London.

Ghiya is a known antiquities smuggler who allegedly confessed to selling 10,000 objects of Indian art via Sotheby’s—subject of a BBC sting operation.  Convicted in 2008 and sentenced to life imprisonment, the conviction was quashed on appeal because of procedural irregularities during the police prosecution.


Ranjeet Kanwar - According to the criminal complaint and statements by a former employee of Kapoor, “Shantoo” is the alleged nickname of Ranjeet Kanwar, one of Subhash Kapoor's alleged main suppliers of stolen antiquities from India.  His name appears on a computer disk file folder that contained three pictures of looted Seated Buddha #1 found at the Sofia Bros. Storage, in New York County, a storage facility rented by Subhash Kapoor.

Om Sharma - According to the criminal complaint, seized emails, and statements by informants #1 and #2, it is alleged that Om Sharma is a supplier of illicit antiquities from India.  Wiener allegedly bought the stolen red sandstone figure depicting a Jain goddess from Sharma in 2009. The complaint also states that in August 2010, “Victor” had allegedly emailed Doris and Nancy Wiener separately to offer one of the Apsara Marbles, attaching pictures of the dirty, unrestored sculpture on the ground with what appeared to be cut marks. According to statements from informants #1 and #2, “Victor” is the alleged email pseudonym for Om and Badal Sharma.

Sharod Singh - According to the criminal complaint, informants #1 and #2, it is alleged that Sharod Singh is a supplier of illicit antiquities from India. According to emails and records provided by informant #1, Doris Wiener allegedly purchased a looted red sandstone relief (“Red Sandstone Couple”) from this individual in 2002 and the allegedly smuggled it into the US via Kurt Anderson, Inc., a corporation owned by her.

The authorities have stated that they executed more than 50 search warrants as part of this investigation.

Update:  15 August 2020:

NB: As details in parallel cases have been released publically by the courts several of the alleged co-conspirators have been identified publically.

Co-Conspirator #1 = Douglas Latchford
Co-Conspirator #2 = Emma Bunker
Co-Conspirator #3 = Neil Perry Smith. 

December 25, 2016

A criminal complaint that reads like a recipe for of illicit antiquities laundering: THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY vs. Nancy Wiener

This 12-page complaint filed in Manhattan Criminal Court, signed by Special Agent Brenton Easter of the Department of Homeland Security, lays out the charges against New York art dealer Nancy Wiener through her gallery Nancy Wiener Gallery.

The complaint is a textbook formula of how looted antiquities are laundered onto the licit art market through poor controls and a lack of ethics and transparency among the major players in the art market. 

The transcription below is the html version of the Court's PDF file version located here.

NOTE:

ARCA has elected to transcribe the document to make it searchable by future scholars conducting open source research on known traffickers.

Update:  15 August 2020:

NB: As details in parallel cases have been released publically by the courts several of the alleged co-conspirators have been identified publically.

Co-Conspirator #1 = Douglas Latchford
Co-Conspirator #2 = Emma Bunker
Co-Conspirator #3 = Neil Perry Smith. 



Page 1 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

Special Agent Brenton Easter, Shield 3014 of the Department of HomelandSecurity Investigations, states as follows: 

The defendant is charged with: 
1 PL 165.54 Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the First Degree (defendant #1: 1 count) 
2 PL 165.52 Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree (defendant #1: 1 count) 
3 PL 105.10(1) Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree (defendant #1: 1 count) 

At the times and places described below in the County and State of New York, the defendant knowingly possessed stolen property with a value in excess of one million dollars with intent to benefit a person other than an owner of the property and to impede recovery by an owner thereof; the defendant knowingly possessed stolen property with a value in excess of 50,000 dollars with intent to benefit a person than an owner of the property and to impede recovery by an owner thereof; the defendant, with intent that conduct constituting a class B or C felony be performed, agreed with one or more persons to engage in and cause the performance of such conduct. 

The factual basis for these charges are as follows: 

Deponent, a Special Agent with DHS-HSI, states that since approximately 2007, he has been assigned to a squad responsible for investigating, among other things, money laundering, smuggling of contraband, art fraud, and the interstate sale and transportation of stolen cultural property. As a Special Agent, Deponent has led or joined teams of agents and officers in the execution of judicially-authorized search and arrest warrants seeking the arrest of individuals and recovery of property and evidence in connection with illegal importations and exportations, and with the interstate and foreign transportation and sale of stolen goods. 

Deponent states that, based on participation in this and other investigations, he is familiar

Page 2 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

with the facts and circumstances of this investigation through the following: personal participation; discussions with agents in DHS-HSI and other foreign and domestic law enforcement agencies; interviews of witnesses, including cooperating witnesses that he has worked with on this and other cases; and records and reports relating to, or generated from, this investigation. No attempt has been made to set forth the complete details of this investigation that include tens of thousands of emails, documents, and photographs recovered pursuant to more than fifty judicially authorized search warrants. Statements andfacts listed have been summarized for the specific purposes of this complaint. 

CONSPIRACY. Between at least 1999 and 2016, with intent that conduct constituting the crimes of Grand Larceny in the First and Second Degrees and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the First and Second Degrees be performed, the Defendant utilized her business, Nancy Wiener Gallery, 49 East 74th Street, New York County, to buy, smuggle, launder, and sell millions of dollars’ worth of antiquities stolen from Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, India, Pakistan, and Thailand. 

A. OBJECTIVES AND METHODS OF THE CONSPIRACY. Defendant and her co-conspirators have trafficked in illegal antiquities for decades. Transporting looted cultural property from the site of the theft to the ultimate buyer through intermediary countries in order to hide the true country of origin, Defendant used a laundering process that included restoration services to hide damage from illegal excavations, straw purchases at auction houses to create sham ownership histories, and the creation of false provenance to predate international laws of patrimony prohibiting the exportation of looted antiquities. 

B. OVERT ACTS. 

1. BAPHUON SHIVA. According to documents provided by informant #1, a dealer in illegal antiquities known to the District Attorney, there was an agreement between Defendant and an antiquities dealer based in London and Bangkok (“Co-Conspirator #1.”) to purchase and sell a Baphuon Shiva from Cambodia, dated to the 11th Century C.E., 39.5 inches high, depicting Shiva standing, and valued at $578,500. Exhibit A. 

Baphuon Shiva, Cambodia
According to emails seized pursuant to search warrants, Defendant and Co-Conspirator #1 bought the Baphuon Shiva in September 2008 “direct from a supplier, and not through a

Page 3 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

dealer” for $250,000. According to informants #1 and #2 (another dealer in looted antiquities known to the District Attorney), buying from a “supplier” is an indication of a looted antiquity. Co-Conspirator #1 then shipped the Baphuon Shiva to London to be “cleaned, put together, and mounted.” In my experience, and according to informants #1 and #2, looted antiquities need to be “cleaned” of tell-tale dirt and debris; “put together,” because stolen statues are often cut up into smaller pieces-called “orphans”-for ease of smuggling; and “mounted,” because stolen statues and reliefs are, often cut from their original pedestal or wall. 

According to seized documents, Defendant then consigned the Baphuon Shiva to Sotheby's New York, for its 2011 sale of “Indian and Southeast Asian Works of Art.” In May 2010, a Sotheby’s employee noted that the Baphuon Shiva had “cracks and joins dressed up with paint splatters to mask repairs.” In my experience, and according to informants #1 and #2, because shovels and picks are frequently used during the clandestine theft of antiquities, such damage is often a sign of looting. According to seized emails, Defendant told Sotheby's the statue had been purchased from antiquities dealer Spink & Son around 1968, but that she had no written proof. In my experience, and according to informants #1 and #2, misrepresenting the true provenance of an antiquity is essential for selling stolen items in the market, because false provenance prevents the items from being easily traced and enables ownership records to be falsified to predate the patrimony laws of the antiquity’s country of origin. Sotheby’s sold the Baphuon Shiva as lot 29 from its showroom at 1334 York Avenue, New York County on March 24, 2011, for $578,500

2. NAGA BUDDHA. In November 2011, Co-Conspirator #1 sold Defendant for $500,000 a stolen bronze Buddha from Thailand or Cambodia, dated to the 10th Century C.E., 17.75 inches high, depicting Buddha sitting on a throne of Naga (snake), with a market value of $1,500,000. Exhibit B. According to informant #2, the Naga Buddha came from the Khmer Empire-present-day Cambodia and parts of Thailand.

Buddha sitting on a Naga (snake) throne
According to seized emails, Defendant had earlier begun falsifying the Naga Buddha's provenance with Co-Conspirator #1 and Co-Conspirator #2 (who works as a research consultant for an American museum) by arranging for a photograph of the Naga Buddha to be published in a 2011 book. In my experience, and according to informants #1 and #2, publishing a photograph of a looted antiquity is a common laundering practice. In another

Page 4 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

email, Co-Conspirator #2 wrote that she had “changed” the provenance “a bit,” asking Co-Conspirator #1 if the changes were “okay.” Co-Conspirator #1 then emailed Defendant, seeking her approval. In another email, Co-Conspirator #1 told Defendant that he typically gave Co-Conspirator #2 bronze statues in exchange for false letters of provenance. 

In January 2016, Defendant shipped the Naga Buddha to a New York-based restorer (“Co-Conspirator #3”) for restoration, stating its value to be $850,000. In February 2016, Co-Conspirator #3 emailed Defendant a bill for the restoration, noting that the Naga Buddha appeared to have been struck by an agricultural tool, resulting in a jagged break - a sign of looting. Defendant displayed the Naga Buddha for sale for $1,500,000 in the Nancy Wiener Gallery until Deponent seized it pursuant to a warrant in March 2016. 

3. TWO SEATED BUDDHAS. In 1999, Defendant possessed, through her gallery, a stolen sandstone seated Buddha, from India, dated to the 1st-3rd Century C.E., 33 inches high and valued at $500,000 (“Seated Buddha #1"). Exhibit C. In 2000, Defendant sold the statue to Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum (“Singapore”) without any statement of provenance. Years later, when Singapore requested provenance, Defendant first claimed that Seated Buddha #1 had belonged to an unnamed European collection for at least 35 to 40 years, but then stated that the owner's father had acquired the piece in India. According to seized emails, Defendant then provided a third version: that the piece had belonged to Ian Donaldson, who purchased it when posted to Vietnam between 1964 and 1966. 

Pursuant to a search warrant executed at Sofia Bros. Storage, in New York County, a storage facility rented by separately charged defendant Subhash Kapoor (“Kapoor”) for his business, Art of the Past, Deponent discovered an unlabeled computer disc containing a folder titled “Shantoo.” According to a former employee of Kapoor, “Shantoo” is the nickname of Ranjeet Kanwar, one of Kapoor's main suppliers of stolen antiquities from India. The disc contained three pictures of Seated Buddha #1; in one, dated “92 11 8,” the statue appearsstill wet as it lay on a dirty floor in front of a makeshift black backdrop. Exhibit D. According to informant #2 and seized documents, Defendant purchased Seated Buddha #1 from Vaman Ghiya, a long-time supplier from India who often used Shantoo to sell his looted antiquities. 

According to informant #2 and seized documents, Defendant also acquired a second stolen

Page 5 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

seated Buddha (“Seated Buddha #2”) from Ghiya, possessing it through her gallery until she sold it to the National Gallery of Australia (“Australia”), in Canberra, Australia, in 2007 for $1,080,000. Exhibit E. In May 2006, Defendant told an employee of the NGA that she had purchased Seated Buddha #2 in 2000, “but knew of it several years prior to that,” and that “[i]t was originally purchased in Hong Kong by an Englishman posted there between1964-66.” When asked for proof, Defendant again used the name Ian Donaldson. Thus, for Australia, she claimed Ian Donaldson had been posted to Hong Kong between 1964-66, despite the fact that she told Singapore Ian Donaldson “was posted to Vietnam.” between 1964–66. 

4. KRISHNA. Pursuant to a search warrant executed at Kapoor's gallery at 1242 Madison Ave, in New York County, Deponent discovered a computer with an e-file entitled “travel.” A subfolder entitled “05 10 India” contained pictures of cultural property Kapoor purchased in India in October 2005 and later smuggled to New York. Some of these pictures depict Krishna Dancing on Kaliya (cobra) from Tamil Nadu, India, dating from the Chola Period (11th-12th Century). Exhibits F-G. In the pictures, the statue was still encrusted with dirt - in my experience, and according to informants #1 and #2, this indicates recent looting. 

According to informant #2, Kapoor purchased the Krishna in India and smuggled it to NewYork hidden in a shipment of legal handicrafts - in my experience, this is a common practice to evade U.S. Customs. According to a document recovered from Kapoor's computer, Kapoor sent the statue in June 2006 to a U.K. -based restorer (“Co-Conspirator #4”) for restoration to hide the signs of looting. According to informant #2 and seized emails, Co-Conspirator #1 - who frequently used Co-Conspirator #4 to clean and restore stolen cultural property - saw the Krishna during restoration and bought it. Another document on Kapoor's computer records the sale to Co-Conspirator #1 for “650,000.00” on “30-Aug.” 

According to seized emails, in June 2011, Co-Conspirator #1 emailed Defendant pre- and post-restoration pictures of the stolen Krishna, and requested that Defendant prepare an appraisal to assist in the future sale of the statue. According to a document on her computer, “Asian treasures Final v4,” Defendant provided an appraisal for $3,500,000. 

4. DORIS WIENER COLLECTION. According to documents on Defendant’s computer, upon Doris Wiener's death in April 2011, antiquities that had been owned by Doris Wiener

Page 6 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

Gallery in New York County were transferred to the estate of Doris Wiener, of which Defendant was co-executor. According to informant #1, Defendant removed all records of where, when, from whom, and for how much each piece was acquired (filling multiple file cabinets) and later told informant #1 that the records no longer existed. 

According to seized emails, Defendant contacted Sotheby's New York to sell the collection, but could not provide documentation that the antiquities had been removed from their countries of origin prior to each country’s patrimony laws. According to Tess Davis, an expert in the laws of patrimony, those years are 1980 for Afghanistan, 1900 for Cambodia, 1982 for China, 1972 for India, 1956 for Nepal, 1975 for Pakistan, and 1961 for Thailand. 

According to seized emails, Defendant instead consigned the collection to Christie's New York, because their policy requires only that an antiquity have been out of its country of origin prior to 2000 (or 1999 for Cambodia), regardless of that country’s patrimony law. In November 2011, Christie's requested provenance information for the “top 20 lots” of the sale, and Defendant provided a document, “Provenance and Country of Origin Details,” that contained false provenance. According to that document, of the 380 lots in the collection, ten came from Spink & Son (an antiquities dealer Defendant had falsely listed as provenance for other stolen antiquities); and four were originally owned by Doris Wiener (who had consigned them for auction to Sotheby’s or Christie's and then reacquired them - in my experience, and according to informants #1 and #2, this type of straw purchase is a common laundering tactic to create a false ownership history). Of the remaining 366 lots, eight were listed with an ownership history prior to Doris Wiener. Six of those eight listed Sotheby’s or Christie's, one listed a “member of the Diplomatic Corps,” and one listed an actual name. For the 380 lots, then, Defendant provided the name of an owner prior to Doris Wiener (other than Spink & Son) for one lot. Christie's offered all 380 lots for sale from its showroom at 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York County, on March 20, 2012, resulting in a total sale of $12,796,437. 

This portion of the conspiracy utilized the following trafficking networks: 

a. OM SHARMA NETWORK. According to seized emails and informants #1 and #2, Om Sharma is a supplier of illicit antiquities from India. Beginning in 2008, Doris Wiener had a series of email exchanges with Sharma about buying a stolen red sandstone figure, from

Page 7 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

India, dated to the 12th Century C.E., 26 inches high, depicting a Jain goddess, and valued at $74,500. According to these emails, Doris Wiener had seen the Jain Goddess still wet and pre-restoration-signs of looting. Exhibits H-J. She bought the statue in 2009, wiring the money to Hong Kong, and smuggled the piece to her New York gallery. 

This Jain Goddess was one of the pieces consigned by Defendant to Christie's (lot 48) for its sale of March 20, 2012. According to seized emails, Defendant falsely claimed to Christie's that the Jain Goddess had been in a private collection in London dating back to the 1980s, before her mother acquired it in New York in 2009. It sold for $74,500. 

b. SHAROD SINGH NETWORK. According to informants #1 and #2, Sharod Singh is a supplier of illicit antiquities from India. According to emails and records provided by informant #1, Doris Wiener in 2002 bought a looted red sandstone relief (“Red Sandstone Couple”), from India, dated to the 1st–2nd Century C.E., and valued at $150,000. Exhibit K. Doris Wiener then smuggled the relief into the United States via Kurt Anderson, Inc., a corporation owned by her to facilitate the importation of looted antiquities. Her 2007 Kurt Anderson account ledger lists a red sandstone couple as line #49, “Sharod Singh Seated Stones (3) Partnership with Nancy, S1044-S1047, $150,000.00.” 

This Red Sandstone Couple was one of the pieces Defendant consigned to Christie's (lot 22) for its sale of March 20, 2012. According to seized emails, Defendant first told Christie's that her mother had acquired the relief “in London in the late 1990’s.” During a recorded conversation after the sale, Defendant admitted using a surrogate to purchase the statue for herself at auction—a tactic often used to launder the statue and later sell it at a higher price as a previously “published” piece. According to recovered documents, and to complete the laundering process, Defendant then changed the provenance to “the 1970s,” and received a certificate from the Art Loss Register. In March of 2016, informant #3, another dealer in illegal antiquities, saw the Red Sandstone Couple at the Nancy Wiener Gallery. Defendant offered the relief for sale, using a third provenance: that it had been in her mother's collection since 1992. As proof of its legitimacy, Defendant noted its publication in a catalogue as part of her mother's estate sale at Christie's in 2012. 

According to seized documents, Defendant also consigned to Christie's four other pieces from her mother's collection that had come from the Singh Network (lots 23, 24, 47, and

Page 8 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

67). In total, three of these five pieces sold at Christie's on March 20, 2012, for $70,000.00. 

c. VAMAN GHIYA NETWORK. In August 1992, Defendant sent a fax document to the supplier Vaman Ghiya (listed above), requesting that he “[p]lease call Nancy Wiener at the Hotel Storchen in Zurich immediately.” That same year, according to seized documents and informant #1, Doris Wiener bought a stolen mottled red sandstone relief depicting a Bacchanalian scene, dated to the 2nd Century C.E., 25 1/2 inches high, and valued at $180,000, from Ghiya in India. Exhibit L. This relief was consigned by Defendant to Christie's (lot 20) for its sale of March 20, 2012. According to seized documents, Defendant falsely claimed that her mother had acquired it from a private collection in London. 

According to seized emails and documents, Defendant consigned to Christie's five other pieces from her mother's collection that had come from the Ghiya Network (lots 20, 21, 27, 45, 49, 55). For two of the consigned statues (lot 49 - Exhibit M and lot 55 - Exhibit O), there were pictures in the Shantoo (Ranjeet Kanwar) file on Kapoor's computer showing the pieces still in situ. Exhibits N and P.  Five of these six pieces sold at Christie's on March 20, 2012, for $478,750.

d. THE HIMALAYAN NETWORK. According to seized documents and informant #2, Co-Conspirator #5 is an antiquities smuggler of Tibetan descent based in Nepal and Hong Kong who was in frequent email contact with Defendant about illicit pieces from Nepal. According to informant #1, in 2002, Co-Conspirator #5 sold Doris Wiener a silver-inlaid gilt bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara from Northeastern India or Western Tibet (China), dated to 10th-11th C.E., and valued at $812,500. Exhibit Q. This Avalokiteshvara was one of the pieces consigned by Defendant to Christie's (lot 87) for its sale of March 20, 2012. According to seized emails, Defendant falsely claimed to Christie's that her mother had acquired the relief from a “private collection, Europe, early 1990’s.” During a recorded conversation in March 2016, Co-Conspirator #5 was asked if the provenance in the Christie's catalogue provided by Defendant for the “Silver-inlaid Gilt Bronze Figure of Avalokiteshvara,” was accurate. Co-Conspirator #5 laughed and said defendant knew that he had acquired the statue from Tibet and sold it to Doris Wiener. This statue sold at Christie's on March 20, 2012, for $812,500. 



e. THE GANDHARAN NETWORK. According to informant #2, Co-Conspirator #6 and

Page 9 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

his father are suppliers of illicit cultural property from primarily Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to several recorded conversations, Co-Conspirator #6 has been shipping large quantities of newly dug-up, stolen antiquities from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Thailand, often via Hong Kong, and then to dealers from around the world for more than a decade. 

According to seized sales invoices, Doris Wiener purchased 14 stolen antiquities in January 2011 from Co-Conspirator #6, including a gray schist relief Buddha receiving a golden bowl, a gray schist relief Buddha receiving the sheaf of grass, a gray schist relief Buddha and the devotees, all dated to 2nd-3rd Century, all between 17–20 inches high, all from Afghanistanor Pakistan, and valued at a total of $32,000. Exhibits R-T. According to informant #1, who saw the artifacts upon their arrival in New York from Asia, they were unrestored, unmounted and/or without bases - classic signs of looting. These reliefs were consigned by Defendant to Christie's (lots 1, 2, 3) for its sale of March 20, 2012.


According to seized documents, Defendant consigned to Christie's six other pieces that had come from Co-Conspirator #6 or his father (lots 5, 7, 14, 16, 18, and 38) for the sale. For six of the nine pieces, Defendant falsely claimed that her mother had acquired the pieces from a “Private Collector, Thailand, mid-1980s or earlier” (lots 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 18). According to informant #2, that provenance was false because the “private collector” was Co-Conspirator #6, who in the mid-1980s was a child living in Pakistan and England. According to seized documents, for two of the three remaining pieces, Christie's altered the provenance, changing Defendant’s “by late 1990s” to “by late 1980s” for lot 14 and changing “2011” to“by 1996” for lot 7. On March 20, 2012, eight of these nine pieces sold at Christie's for $196,500. 

CRIMINAL POSSESSION OF STOLEN PROPERTY IN THE FIRST DEGREE: NAGA BUDDHA. As noted above, in November 2011, Co-Conspirator #1 sold to Defendant for $500,000 a stolen bronze Buddha depicting Buddha sitting on a throne of Naga (snake), from Thailand or Cambodia, dated to the 10th Century C.E., 17.75 inches high. Exhibit B. Defendant displayed the Naga Buddha for sale for its market value of $1,500,000 in her gallery, until it was seized pursuant to a warrant in March 2016. 

CRIMINAL POSSESSION OF STOLEN PROPERTY IN THE SECOND DEGREE: THE APSARA MARBLES. From on or about September 2010 to on or about at least

Page 10 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

March 2016, Defendant possessed a stolen marble Apsara ceiling panel depicting a female figure (“Apsara Marble”), from India, dated to the 10th Century A.D., 44 inches tall, and valued at $500,000. According to theft reports prepared by the Archaeological Survey of India (“ASI”) and filed with Interpol, a total of six celestial marble statutes were stolen from the ceiling of the Toos temple in India between November 2009 and September 2010. Exhibits U-V. According to seized emails, in September and October 2010, Defendant received several emails about the theft of the Apsara Marbles as well as pictures of the stolen statues. A month earlier, in August 2010, “Victor” had emailed Doris and Nancy Wiener separately to offer one of the Apsara Marbles, attaching pictures of the dirty, unrestored sculpture on the ground with what appeared to be cut marks. Exhibit W. According to informants #1 and #2, “Victor” is the email pseudonym for Om and Badal Sharma (see paragraph 5a above). According to a recorded conversation of a former employee of the Nancy Wiener Gallery, this Apsara Marble arrived at the Gallery around the same time as this string of emails, and then Defendant sent it to Co-Conspirator #3 for restoration. According to emails and documents seized from Defendant’s computer, she was still in possession of the Apsara Marble in March 2016. 

Tess Davis, a member of the New York State Bar and affiliate of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow, has conducted extensive field research on the illicit trade in Asian antiquities since 2004. 

Afghanistan. Ms. Davis is familiar with the cultural property laws of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, including the 1980 Law on Protection of Historical and Cultural Properties as modified in 2004, and the 1958 Code for the Protection of Antiquities. According to Ms. Davis, this legal regime protects cultural heritage, vesting its ownership in the state. 

Cambodia. Ms. Davis is familiar with Cambodian law governing cultural patrimony,including, inter alia, Arrété du Gouverneur Général de l'Indochine sur la conservation desmonuments et objets ayant un intérêt historique ou artistique du 9 mars 1900; Arrété relativeau classement, à la conservation et à la protection des monuments historiques des pays deprotectorat du 11 juillet 1925; 1968 Law on the Organization of Suppressing the Acts of Stealing, Receipt of Stolen Goods, and Destruction of Patrimony Relating to the National Heritage; 1992 Land Law; 1996 Law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage; and 2001 Land Law. According to Ms. Davis, this legal regime protects cultural heritage, vesting its


Page 11 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

ownership in the state. 

China. Ms. Davis is familiar with the cultural property laws of the People's Republic of China, which includes the Tibet Autonomous Region, including the Law on Protection of Cultural Relics (of 19 November 1982 as revised on 29 June 1991 and 28 October 2002). According to Ms. Davis, this and the country’s broader legal regime protects cultural heritage, vesting ownership of immoveable and moveable “cultural relics” in the state. 

India. Ms. Davis is familiar with the cultural patrimony laws of India, including theAntiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972, along with the Antiquities and Art Treasures Rules, 1973 (updated January 2012), and the Ancient and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958 (updated in 2010). According to Ms. Davis, this legal regime protects culturalheritage, vesting its ownership in the state. 

Nepal. Ms. Davis is familiar with the cultural property laws of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, including the Ancient Monuments Protection Act of 1956 as amended in1964, 1970, and 1994. According to Ms. Davis, this legal regime protects ancient monuments and archaeological objects, vesting its ownership in the state. 

Pakistan. Ms. Davis is familiar with the cultural property laws of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, including the 1975 Antiquities Act (as amended in 1992), and its predecessors the Antiquities Act of 1968 and Ancient Monuments Preservation Act of 1904. According to Ms. Davis, this legal regime protects archaeological sites and objects, vesting the ownership of undiscovered antiquities in the state. 

Thailand. Ms. Davis is familiar with the cultural property laws of the Kingdom of Thailand, including the 1961 Act on Ancient Monuments, Antiquities, Objects of Art, and National Museums (as amended in 1992). According to Ms. Davis, this legal regime protects archaeological sites and objects, vesting its ownership in the state.

Page 12 of 12 

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 
COUNTY OF NEW YORK 
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FELONY 
-against- 
Nancy Wiener (F34), Defendant. 

Felony

ADA Matthew Bogdanos 
(212) 335-9323

False statements made in this written instrument are punishable as a class A misdemeanor pursuant to section 210.45 of the Penal Law, and as other crimes. 

Signed, Special Agent Brenton Easter 
Date December 21, 2016
Time: 11:40