An American tax evader in London

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office criminal complaint against Subhash Kapoor contains some interesting tidbits about the use of antiquities purchases for tax evasion. In March 2005, Kapoor sold the twelfth-century bronze Standing Jina (allegedly illegally excavated) to a New York private collector and provided an invoice recording the sale for $64,442 plus $5,558.12 tax – a total of $70,000.12. According to a sales ledger seized by DHS-HSI agents, however, the actual price paid by the collector was $435,000, which at the time in New York would have attracted a sales tax payment of something like $37,410. A couple of years later, in March 2007, Kapoor issued an invoice recording the sale of the twelfth-century bronze statue of the child saint Sambander (allegedly stolen from the Siva Temple in Sripuranthan, Tamil Nadu) to the same collector for $125,000 plus $10,468.75 tax – a total of $135,468.75. Kapoor’s sales ledger shows the collector actually paid $775,000, which would have attracted $66,650 sales tax. Thus, working together, Kapoor and the collector seem to have defrauded the New York tax payer out of $88,033.

From November 2006 to February 2007, the Standing Jina was on display in London at the Royal Academy’s ‘Chola: Sacred Bronzes of Southern India’ exhibition. In the exhibition catalogue, its owner was described as a private collector (Guy et al. 2006: 140-141). Private tax evader would have been more appropriate.

Reference

Guy, John, Vidya Dehejia, John Eskenazi and Daud Ali, 2006. Chola: Sacred Bronzes of Southern India. London: Royal Academy.