The National Gallery of Australia has launched legal action in New York after discovering taxpayers paid US$5.0m ($5.6m) for a statue that had allegedly been stolen.
The matter relates to the gallery’s 2008 purchase of a bronze sculpture titled Shiva as Lord of the Dance (Nataraja), dating from 11th century India.
Lawyers acting for the gallery claim a New York-based dealership, Art of the Past, “fraudulently induced” the gallery to buy the statue by making “misrepresentations and false assurances concerning the history of the Shiva”.
Court documents show the dealer provided the gallery with sales receipts for the Shiva dating back to 1970. Subsequently the gallery paid for the item to be shipped to Australia, added to its collection, and paid for in two instalments....