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Art and Law Newsletter: American collector finally returns 10th century idol stolen in 1974

By June 23, 2013October 8th, 2018No Comments

Norton Simon, an American art collector, was in possession of a stolen Indian bronze for nearly four decades. The priceless bronze, an idol of Lord Nataraja, was taken from the Sri Sivagurunathasamy temple of Sivaputam, located in the Thanjavur district. According to officials, the idol was entrusted to a local sculptor for repairs in 1954. A copy was made and given to the temple, while the original was smuggled to Bombay, and eventually sold to Simon. The idol was later confiscated by Scotland Yard when Simon sent it to a restorer in London for repair. British authorities contacted the Indian government, who reached an out of court settlement with Simon. Under the terms of this agreement, Simon agreed to return the idol, but only if he was allowed to retain the bronze for nearly 10 years, and if the Indian government agreed not to inquire about any other works in his possession. The work is now in the Kapaleeshwar temple in Chennai.

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