US District Attorney returns 192 stolen artifacts to Pakistan

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The Manhattan district attorney has returned to Pakistan more than 190 items worth a combined $3.4 million, most of which were seized as part of an investigation into art dealer Subhash Kapoor.

In a November 10 press release, District Attorney Alvin L Bragg said, “Subhash Kapoor was one of the world’s most prolific antiquities dealers, but thanks to the work of our dedicated investigators and analysts, we have been able to recover thousands of pieces looted by his network. We will continue to seek full accountability against Mr. Kapoor and his co-conspirators, who showed blatant disregard for the cultural and historical significance of these antiquities.”

Up to 192 artifacts were returned to Pakistan. Of these, 187 of the artifacts were seized as part of the Kapoor investigation, while the remainder were found as a result of other ongoing criminal investigations. The repatriation ceremony, where the artifacts were returned, was attended by Ayesha Ali, the Pakistani Consul General in New York, and Thomas Acocella, the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of US Homeland Security Investigations.

The returned items include a Gandharan statue from Pakistan that was looted and depicted a maitreya, or enlightened form of Buddha, and Mehrgarh dolls, dated between 3500 and 2600 BC. C. that were stolen from a Neolithic archaeological site in Pakistan and brought to New York County.

In November 2022, a special court in Kumbakonam found Kapoor and his associates guilty of receiving and dealing in stolen Indian artifacts and conspiring to sell them. The United States also issued an arrest warrant for Kapoor in 2012 and requested his extradition from India in 2020.

The district attorney’s office has returned 876 artifacts worth more than $89 million this year to 15 countries. The Artifact Trafficking Unit has returned some 2,300 antiquities, worth more than $200 million, to 22 countries since its inception.

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