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3 Stolen Idols Traced To Auction Houses Abroad, TN Readies Documents To Retrieve Them

In Nation
December 31, 2022

The Tamil Nadu Idol Wing has traced three idols stolen from the state to the Christie’s auction house, Sotheby’s and another in Manhattan, and also initiated steps to retrieve them, DGP K Jayanth Murali said on Friday.

Steps are on to bring back an idol of the Buddha seized from the international idol smuggler Subash Kapoor’s gallery in New York by the district attorney’s office in Manhattan and now available in their warehouse, a bronze idol of Lord Nataraj and an idol of Alingana Murthy (Chandrasekhar and his wife Chandrasekhar Amman).

Papers will be submitted to bring the Buddha idol in a week’s time to Tamil Nadu and have it reinstalled at its original place at Arapakkam in Kanchipuram district, Murali said.

The Idol Wing came across an auction notice issued by Christies.com, France, listing a bronze idol of Lord Nataraj for sale on December 16 for a bid price of 2,00,000 to 3,00,000 Euros, and immediately took up the issue. The idol was stolen in 1972 from Sri Akilandeswari Sametha Kothandarameshwar temple, Kayathar, Kovilpatti, in Thoothukudi district.

“As there was adequate proof to establish ownership of the idol, the authorities in India and abroad were alerted to stop the auction. The DGP also put out a tweet and personally contacted the Indian Ambassador to France Jawed Ashraf over phone,” a release said.

The Idol Wing hopes to retrieve the idol and restore it to the Akilandeswari Sametha Kothandarameshwar temple, soon.

The idol of Alingana Murthy was stolen from Sri Tolisvarar temple Kovilpalayam, Kunnam taluk, Perambalur district. The Wing, which stumbled on a catalog of Sotheby’s, found that the idol of Chandrasekhar and his wife Chandrasekhar Amman were sold on March 26, 1998 for USD 85,000.

The Wing has established ample evidence that the idol auctioned by Sotheby’s was stolen from Sri Tolisvarar temple. It would soon submit relevant documents to the United States government to identify the collector who purchased the idol from Sotheby’s, confiscate and return the idol to India, the release said.