There are two main crimes in the world of dealing antiquities: selling forgeries and selling artifacts with improper provenance, items that may have been stolen from archaeological sites. Indiana Jones might have said that the artifacts in the second group belong in museums, and while the police have seized some $20 million in property from the Upper East Side dealer Subhash Kapoor following accusations of smuggling, some of his wares have in fact ended up in institutions. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, for example, has 81 artifacts from Mr. Kapoor in its collection that were either purchased or received as a gift, and it turns out that five of those donations were forgeries.
But it’s not how it sounds. The forgeries were actually given to the museum as forgeries, Met spokesman Harold Holzer told The Observer. They were donated to the institution’s study collection so that scholars may use them to judging inauthenticity.
As for the other items, Mr. Holzer said, the Met is studying them, and their provenances.
“Has the entire department dropped all of its work to focus on these pieces? No,” Mr. Holzer said. “But it’s always doing research and it’s always hoping that it’ll find out more information. You can’t condemn any work of art as guilty until proven innocent.”
Mr. Kapoor’s own culpability status remains in limbo as he faces charges in India. Sounds like it would be just his luck if the Met somehow found out that the items he donated as forgeries are actually authentic.