US ‘idol smuggler’ to be extradited today

FP

A US citizen of Indian origin, Subhash Chandra Kapoor, 64, is being extradited from Germany to India for allegedly smuggling antique idols which were reportedly stolen from temples in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

He is scheduled to arrive in Chennai tomorrow, escorted by a team of CBI and Tamil Nadu police officers who left for Frankfurt earlier this week.

Kapoor, who was arrested in Germany in October last year following an Interpol Red Corner notice, owns an art gallery called 'Art of the Past' in New York. Kapoor's name first came up when the Tamil Nadu police were investigating the theft of 18 antique metal idols from the Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple at Suthamalli village in Ariyalur district in April 2008. Kapoor has also been named in the theft of an emerald idol of Lord Shiva from Sringeri Mutt in Kaladi, Kerala.

In 2009, the Kerala police arrested three persons who named Kapoor. "Further interrogations revealed that the stolen idols were smuggled through Hong Kong and UK. The accused forged documents to establish that the idols were new," said a CBI official.

The "Art of the Past" website describes Kapoor as a "businessman who has grown up in the field of South Asian fine antiquities". It says his father, Parshotam Ram Kapoor, was an art dealer in India.

"In 1976, Subhash Kapoor opened his first gallery, Temple Art, on Madison Avenue. Temple Art closed in 1987, and Kapoor opened Art of the Past, on Madison Avenue, in the same year," says the website, adding that Kapoor has sold art works to many museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

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