Disgraced Art Dealer Charged with Operating $145 Million Smuggling Ring

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Friday, July 19, 2019
Alex Psilakis

On July 8, 2019, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against Subhash Kapoor, an art dealer – once based in New York – accusing him of running an art smuggling ring valued at $145 million. The complaint filed argues that Kapoor garnered rare, exquisite pieces from countries including India, Afghanistan, and Thailand. In acquiring these items, Kapoor created fake paper trails to make his efforts appear legitimate, crafting documents like fraudulent invoices and import forms. Finally, he would sell these pieces to buyers from around the world, which typically involved collectors, art dealers, and museums. In one case, for example, the complaint details how the smuggling ring – which included Kapoor and seven conspirators – stole a statue of the goddess Uma Parameshvari from a religious temple in India. The ring smuggled it to Hong Kong, then London, where it underwent restoration, to ultimately be sold for $2.5 million in New York.