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Antiquities Trafficking Case Involving Mpu Purwa Museum Artefacts Uncovered in New York

Main image to the post Antiquities Trafficking Case Involving Mpu Purwa Museum Artefacts Uncovered in New York

The Mpu Purwa Museum in Malang, East Java, is home to a diverse collection of 136 artifacts spanning from the time of Medang's king Mpu Sindok to the Majapahit empire. However, recent events have shed light on a trafficking case involving stolen antiquities, some of which were traced to this museum. The Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, revealed that several valuable pieces, including a bronze statue of the Hindu deity Shiva stolen from Cambodia and a stone bas-relief depicting royal figures from the Majapahit empire, were part of the recovered items.

Allegations have been made against art dealers Subhash Kapoor and Nancy Wiener for their involvement in the illegal trafficking of these antiquities. Kapoor, an Indian-American, is accused of operating a network that trafficked items stolen in Southeast Asia for sale in his Manhattan gallery. Despite denying the charges, Kapoor was arrested in Germany in 2011 and later extradited to India, where he was sentenced to 13 years in prison. On the other hand, Wiener, who was sentenced in 2021 for trafficking in stolen works of art, was connected to attempting to sell the bronze Shiva statue, which was eventually donated to the Denver Museum of Art in 2007 before being seized by New York courts in 2023.

Under Bragg's leadership, the Antiquities Trafficking Unit has been actively working on recovering stolen items, with nearly 1,200 pieces valued at over $250 million being restored to their respective countries. Despite these efforts, Bragg emphasized that there is still much more work to be done to combat the trafficking networks targeting Southeast Asian antiquities. The case highlights the global nature of art trafficking and the importance of collaboration between countries to protect cultural heritage.

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Round userpic of the post author Bella Ciao
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May 21, 2023 | 05:09