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How Subhash Kapoor was caught: A Timeline

October 14, 2015 13:10 IST

A Timeline
Constructed with inputs from Vijay Kumar, who investigates the illicit antiquities trade.

  • 2007: In Mumbai, police/customs are tipped off that a consignment of rare antiques is being shipped by antiquites dealer Subhash Kapoor, incorrectly marked as marble garden furniture, out of Mumbai. Indian law enforcement alerts America's Homeland Security.
  • 2007: The 'marble garden furniture' consignment is seized in New York by Homeland Security. But Homeland Security agents are unable to arrest Kapoor. He apparently gets a phone call from a 'friend' who warns him that his shipment has been seized. He abandons it, claims it is not his.
  • 2009: Homeland Security continues to trace the origin and people behind the 'marble garden furniture shipment,' that actually contains stolen Indian antiquities and work on its trail. They place a wire (a hidden microphone, which enables Homeland Security agents to overhear conversations) on Kapoor's assistant, Aaron Freedman. By 2011, Homeland Security agents are closing in on Kapoor.
  • 2009: The Tamil Nadu police also begin investigating a series of temple robberies occurring since 2006 in Ariyalur district. During a routine vehicle check they arrest two thieves who had broken into a temple and were paid about Rs 200,000 to Rs 300,000 for three hauls. The thugs begin to squeal. They reveal that Sanjeevi Asokan, a Chennai
    art dealer, is their coordinator. Asokan, who is arrested from a hotel in Kerala, identifies Subhash Kapoor as the mastermind of the idol network. He tells Tamil Nadu law enforcement that Kapoor came to Tamil Nadu in 2005 and asked him for more goods. Asokan reveals he subsequently shipped out Chola antiquities to Kapoor.
  • 2009: Another set of thieves steal a Nataraja idol from a temple in Ariyalur district. They get into a fight and are arrested by the Tamil Nadu police, but not before they damage the Nataraja. They reveal that they were commissioned to steal the Nataraja by a smuggling ring. Before the police can get their hands on the bronze Nataraja, it disappears from the country and its photograph appears in one of Subhash Kapoor's Art of Past catalogues, according to Vijay Kumar. A month before Tamil Nadu's Idol Wing arrests Kapoor, an unnamed Chennai dealer hands it over to the police.
  • 2010-2011: While the Tamil Nadu police work on leads to these temple thefts, they get lucky when Subhash Kapoor's Singapore-based ex-girlfriend Paramaspry Punusamy reveals details of his transactions. The Tamil Nadu police issue a warrant for his arrest. Kapoor knows the heat is on him in the US and India and flees the country.
  • 2011: An Interpol red corner alert is issued and Kapoor is detained at Frankfurt airport in October 2011.
  • 2012: Kapoor is extradited to India. He has been imprisoned in a Chennai jail since.
Vaihayasi Pande Daniel / Rediff.com