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Lakshmi Subramanian
Lakshmi Subramanian


Girlfriends and well-wishers

29Christie Fresh catch: An Indian sculpture seized from auction house Christie's on March 11 | AP

Investigation has revealed that Kapoor often used the names of his girlfriends and acquaintances to create false ownership records for stolen antiques. “In the Ball State University’s Owsley Museum case, investigation reveals a new name used by Kapoor: Leo Figiel, a collector of Indian art who allegedly died in 2013,” says Jason Felch, the author of Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum. “The Peabody Essex Museum, which recently returned a Kapoor artefact, acquired Figiel’s collection of Indian antique bronzes in 2006. Figiel provided Kapoor with a false letter claiming he acquired the bronze from a European collection in 1969.”

Most antiques sold by Kapoor came from Raj Mahgoub, the wife of a Sudanese diplomat. Says Felch: “For starters, she is a real person. She lived in the blue-collar neighbourhood of Queens, New York for decades, with a brief stint outside Philadelphia. Perhaps coincidentally, her Facebook profile shows she has many friends or family members with the last name Kapoor.”

Apart from Mahgoub, the other name that figures in Kapoor’s letters is his long-time girlfriend Salina Mohamed. Tamil Nadu idol wing officials say she was recently charged with conspiracy and criminal possession of stolen property. Apparently, she was also involved in the fabrication of provenances. Also, investigation revealed that Kapoor's daughter, Mamta Sager, donated 11 paintings and a lithograph to American Friends of the National Gallery of Australia, a US-based non-profit organisation. Sager has also been named in a criminal case filed in New York against Kapoor’s sister, Sushma Sareen.

Another girlfriend who figures on the list is Paramaspry Punusamy, the owner of Dalhousie Enterprises and Jazmin Asian Arts in Singapore. Apparently, she tipped off the police about Kapoor's dealings after they broke up in 2009. Apart from these women, Kapoor’s list of well-wishers allegedly includes Stephen Markel, curator of Asian art at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “LACMA had actually acquired 62 objects from Kapoor. The other name, which has been revealed after investigation, is Robert Knox, the former keeper of Asian art at the British Museum. Also in the list is Vidya Dehejia, a professor of Indian and South Asian Art at Columbia University,” says Felch in his blog.

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