Senior Nepali journalist Namrata Sharma, a core member of the Southasia Peace Action Network (Sapan), was among the journalists who recently investigated the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (‘the Met’) antiquities collection, for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Finance Uncovered and other media partners.
The investigation found that hundreds of antiquities in the Met’s collection have no records going back to a country of origin. Those include the Celestial Dancer from India, the statue of Shreedhar Vishnu from Bungmati in Nepal and 94 relics from Kashmir.
The investigation raises new concerns over the origin of the museum’s inventory of ancient statues, friezes and other relics. In the 1960s, trying to catch up with rivals in London and Paris, the Met’s leadership aggressively sought major acquisitions. In the process, they either overlooked or embraced antiquities smuggling as a mainstay of the museum’s sourcing.
Today, governments, law enforcement officials and researchers have linked a mounting number of the Met’s relics to looters and traffickers. While the Met has voluntarily returned some items, prosecutors have seized others.
Reporters reviewing the museum’s catalogue found at least 1,109 pieces previously owned by people who had been either indicted or convicted of antiquities crimes; 309 of them are on display. Fewer than half of the 1,109 relics have records describing how they left the country of origin, even from places with strict, longstanding export laws.
Read more at More than 1000 artifacts in Metropolitan Museum of Art catalog linked to alleged looting and trafficking figures by Spencer Woodman, Malia Politzer, Delphine Reuter and Namrata Sharma in ICIJ 20 March 2023
Lead photo courtesy: P Spiro/Alamy
Thank you Sapan News for being launched today during the Sapan two years celebration. Feeling excited and fortunate to be part of this network