TN idol wing traces stolen 19th-century painting to US Homeland security

In a major breakthrough, the elite idol wing of the Tamil Nadu police has traced a 19th-century Sarfoji painting of Bhonsle Raja to the US Homeland security.

Sources in the police told IANS that the painting was missing from the Saraswathi Mahal Library and the arrested antique smuggler Sanjeev Kapoor was behind the theft.

The painting which depicts King Serfoji II of the Bhonsle dynasty along with his son Sivaji II was, according to Idol wing, purchased by the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Massachusetts from Subash Kapoor.

A senior officer with the idol wing told IANS that when the PEM museum came to know that the painting was stolen, they handed it over to the US Homeland security.

It may be noted that the librarian of Saraswathi Mahal Library, E. Rajendran filed a missing antique complaint with the police in 2017 but the date of missing the piece could not be ascertained.

The Idol wing police team scanned the websites of several museums and other antique buying institutions including auction centres and found that the painting was on the website of the museum. When the PEM authorities came to know that the painting was a stolen piece they handed it over to the US Homeland security.

Idol wing officer told IANS that Sanjeev Kappor had fraudulently made a letter claiming that the artefact was sold to him by the art collector late Leo Figiel from which it was mentioned that he had acquired it from a European collection.

The Idol wing police are planning to bring the artefact back to Saraswathi Mahal library using the UNESCO art treaty.

The idol wing police had recently traced the first Tamil manuscript of the Bible that was stolen from the Saraswati Mahal Museum to the King George museum in London.

The translation of the New Testament in Tamil was printed in 1715 by the Danish missionary,Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg. The Tamil Nadu local police had closed the missing case which was later taken up by the idol wing that traced the manuscript to the King George museum in London.

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