The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) announced it will expedite the transfer of an artwork from its collection to the Department of Homeland Security's - Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to cooperate with an ongoing international art fraud investigation. PEM is one of several major art institutions around the world that purchased items from art dealer Subhash Kapoor, who was arrested in 2011 on charges of trafficking in stolen antiques from India.
Through HSI's investigation, PEM learned that a mid-19th century Tanjore portrait in its collection, which was acquired from Subhash Kapoor's New York gallery in 2006, has falsified provenance. The artwork will be turned over to HSI.
"PEM's legacy of cultural and artistic exchange with India extends over 200 years," says Dan L. Monroe, PEM's Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO. "The allegations of Subhash Kapoor's art trafficking bring to light a nefarious ring of fraud, the discovery of which has sent shock waves through the art community. PEM has undertaken a rigorous internal assessment of its collection and is working in full cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security. PEM remains deeply committed to collecting, stewarding and presenting exceptional works of art and culture from around the world."
"I applaud the Peabody Essex Museum's decision to assist HSI with our investigation by returning this precious artwork," said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New York. "I hope their example sets the standard for other institutions that may have inadvertently purchased or received stolen artifacts."
Indian artist, mid-19th century
Maharaja Serfoji II of Tanjavur and his son Shivaji II,
Tanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India
Wood, lime plaster, water-base paint, gold leaf, glass
57 x 42 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches (144.78 x 107.95 x 13.97 cm)
Peabody Essex Museum, Museum purchase, 2006.
PEM's Indian Art Collection
PEM is home to the most important collection of modern-era Indian art, from colonial times to the present, outside India. In 2001, the acquisition of the Chester and Davida Herwitz Collection of post-Independence art from India established PEM as the first museum outside of India to focus on the achievements of its modern artists. The Herwitz Collection of post-1947 Indian paintings -- some 1,600 works by approximately 70 artists -- remains unparalleled in any American or European museum. Painting dominates the overall collection, in large measure because of the Herwitz Collection, but also because of its deep holdings in the vernacular Kalighat painting tradition: PEM's Kalighat paintings constitute one of the top three collections in the world.
PEM is preeminent internationally for representing the art of the modern era, from the period of British colonial rule to the present, in what is modern-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Additionally, the extensive Bhutanese textile collection is the most important in an American museum, and the museum has diverse works from various Southeast Asian cultures, principally from the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, as well as from Tibet and Nepal.
Web site at www.pem.org