Stolen art discovered in Hawaii museum turned over to authoritie - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Stolen art discovered in Hawaii museum turned over to authorities

Stolen art in Hawaii museum turned over to authorities Stolen art in Hawaii museum turned over to authorities
Honolulu Museum of Art (Image source: Facebook) Honolulu Museum of Art (Image source: Facebook)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

It seems like a Hollywood script: stolen art from a faraway land winds up on display in an island paradise before law enforcement swoops in to snatch up the antiquities.

It wasn't Hollywood, it's Honolulu. And it's not a script, it's real life.

Wednesday at the Honolulu Museum of Art, seven historical artifacts were turned over to Homeland Security Investigations officials as part of an ongoing operation. The pieces were acquired by the museum starting in 1991 over the course of a decade. They were either purchased or donated by an art dealer by the name of Subhash Kapoor.

"He had long term relationships with people, he was in the field forever, selling antiquities. Then one day we wake up and realize, hey, they're stolen," said Museum Director Stephan Jost.

Kapoor was arrested in 2011, and is now awaiting trial in India. HSI investigators received a tip on a single item at the Honolulu Museum. Once they started digging, six more antiquities were discovered to be stolen.

The seven items represent just a small fraction of stolen artifacts in a shadowy criminal world, where provenance is difficult to prove.

"Since 2007, there have been 7800 pieces, cultural antiquities that have been seized and re-patrioted to governments, or countries," said Special Agent in Charge Wayne Wills.

The value of these particular artifacts?

"Priceless to the countries these items belong to," said Wills.

These items will be stored as evidence in New York, then returned to India once the case is closed.

The items may be one of a kind, but the story is not.

"This is an ice cube on top of an iceberg. There will be more," said Jost.

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