- Associated Press - Sunday, July 19, 2015

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - A 1,000-year-old Hindu idol on display at Ball State University’s art museum has come under question since the dealer of the artifact became the subject of a federal investigation.

A blogger who has helped identify many stolen idols says he believes that the small bronze statue depicting the marriage of deities Shiva and Parvati was taken from a temple in India.

Officials of Ball State’s David Owsley Museum of Art bought the artifact 10 years ago from New York City art dealer Subhash Kapoor, who’s accused of being one of the world’s most prolific art smugglers and temple raiders.

But there’s no proof the statue was stolen, museum director Robert La France told The Star Press (https://tspne.ws/1gznB7r ).

“In 2005, the museum purchased the statue of Shiva and Parvati in good faith from the art dealer Subhash Kapoor, who claimed full title to the work and provided documentation of its provenance (origin) since 1969,” La France said.

However, “it is likely that the provenance papers of this (Ball State) statue are fake, given Kapoor’s record,” art blogger Vijay Kumar wrote last week in the Indian English-language daily newspaper The Times of India.

“We will have to identify the temple it belongs to so we can make a claim on the statue,” he wrote.

After learning about Kumar’s report, La France said he wrote to the Consulate General of India in Chicago.

Many museums across the country, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, are known to have held artwork obtained through Kapoor.

The Toledo Museum of Art and the Honolulu Museum of Art have returned pieces they purchased from the art dealer.

In 2011, Kapoor was arrested in Germany and extradited a year later to India, where he’s awaiting trial.

La France said he’s not aware of any other artwork that the Ball State museum bought from Kapoor.

Federal authorities haven’t yet contacted the Ball State museum, and the statue of Shiva and Parvati remains in its case in the South and Southeast Asia gallery.

“The subject is love and marriage, and I encourage people to come and see the work while it is on display in the gallery of the South Asian art during the investigation,” La France said.

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Information from: The Star Press, https://www.thestarpress.com


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