According to the release, 187 of the artefacts were discovered by the art dealer Subhash Kapoor, making him one of the most active antiquities smugglers in the world.
Ayesha Ali, the Pakistani consul general in New York, and Thomas Acocella, the assistant special agent in charge of US Homeland Security Investigations, were present at a repatriation ceremony where the artefacts were restored to their rightful owners in the Pakistan Consulate.
A Gandharan statue of a Maitreya, an enlightened incarnation of the Buddha, was among the artwork and artefacts that were taken from Pakistan and smuggled into New York in the 1990s.
When he was charged with transporting and selling stolen artefacts, Kapoor had two businesses: an art gallery in New York called “Art of the Past” and a side venture that focused on selling antiquities from Southeast Asia.
According to the report, the artifacts were stolen from a Neolithic archaeological site in Pakistan and then transported illegally to New York.
They were kept there by representatives of the art gallery until they were taken this year by US officials, it continued.
In 1974, archaeologists in Pakistan found the Mehrgarh archaeological site, which has since been looted.
“Subhash Kapoor was one of the world’s most prolific antiquities traffickers, yet thanks to the work of our dedicated investigators and analysts, we have been able to recover thousands of pieces looted by his network,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg added.
“We will continue to pursue full accountability against Mr. Kapoor and his co-conspirators, who showed a blatant disregard for the cultural and historic significance of these antiquities,” he continued.
According to the notification, Kapoor was detained in Germany’s Frankfurt International Airport in October 2011 and was subsequently deported to India on suspicion of receiving stolen artefacts.
The report said that the artefacts, which were stolen from temples in Southern India, were afterwards sold to museums all over the world.
Since his conviction, he has been detained in an Indian prison. Last Thursday, a Kumbakonam, India, special court found him guilty of receiving stolen property, routinely dealing in stolen property, and conspiracy.
After that, according to the MDA, he was given a 13-year prison term and fine.
Kapoor was officially charged with a conspiracy to traffic in stolen antiquities in 2019 along with seven other defendants after the office of former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. acquired a warrant for his arrest in 2012.
The Indian court also found and punished Sanjeev Asokan, a co-defendant in the New York lawsuit against Kapoor.
The notification also stated that US authorities are “continuing to seek prosecution” despite having previously requested Kapoor’s extradition.
Richard Salmon and Neil Perry, two further co-defendants in the New York case, were both found guilty in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
Selina Mohamed, Aaron Freedman, and Sushma Sareen were three additional conspirators who were found guilty in 2013 and 2014, respectively.