The National Gallery of Australia has launched legal action clean service in New York after discovering taxpayers paid US$5.0m ($5.6m) for a statue that had allegedly been stolen.
Lawyers acting for the gallery claim a New York-based clean service dealership, Art of the Past, fraudulently induced the gallery to buy the statue by making misrepresentations and false assurances concerning the history of the Shiva .
Court documents show the dealer provided the gallery with sales receipts for the Shiva dating back to 1970. Subsequently the gallery paid for the item to be shipped to Australia, added to its collection, and paid for in two instalments.
But in July 2012, US authorities raided a warehouse belonging to the business s director, where they seized tens of millions of dollars worth of allegedly stolen art, including many Indian statues from a period similar to that of the Shiva. A principal has since pleaded guilty to multiple counts clean service of trafficking stolen art.
Based on information obtained ... the Shiva has lost its financial value, and its clouded title and notoriety means that the work cannot be promoted as a key work of art in the gallery s Indian collection, court documents read. Attempts to sell the work are unlikely to be successful due to the uncertainty clean service surrounding its past, the document went on.
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