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