Author Topic: Theft at Chennai Museum  (Read 2571 times)

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Offline Bimat

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Theft at Chennai Museum
« on: December 28, 2013, 05:02:29 PM »
Chennai museum heist: Officials take inventory to check stolen items

A Selvaraj,TNN | Dec 28, 2013, 06.24 PM IST

CHENNAI: Several rare items and replicas of ancient coins on display at the Bronze Gallery of the government museum in Chennai, established in 1854, have been stolen. Museum officials and police are still clueless about the actual number of art pieces that are missing. Officials say that the museum heist could have taken place on Thursday night or on Friday, which happened to be a holiday.

Museum staff Lalitha and the security guard, who came to the Bronze Gallery on Saturday morning, discovered that a window in the gallery had been broken open and the locks of the doors on the first and second floors had also been broken. Police collected CCTV footages and are investigating. The two-storeyed bronze gallery houses some rare idols, including a centre-piece, the huge Nataraja in the famous dance pose, besides several centuries-old icons from across the country. It is shocking that this is the sixth time that thieves have broken into the museum since the year 2000.

Police personnel and museum officials inspected the museum. "We are taking the inventory of the valuables in the Bronze Gallery. The idols were not stolen and it is a protected building. Police will provide security for the museum round-the-clock and will maintain surveillance of the building," said commissioner of the museum R Kannan.

Source: Times of India
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Offline Bimat

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Theft at Chennai Museum
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2013, 05:03:03 PM »
Six thefts in 14 years?!? :o

Aditya
It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. -J. K. Rowling.

Offline dheer

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Re: Theft at Chennai Museum
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2013, 05:21:18 PM »
It always is amusing to see what all can happen in India  ;D
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Offline nomadbird

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Re: Theft at Chennai Museum
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2013, 06:24:33 PM »
It always is amusing to see what all can happen in India  ;D

So you are amused by the theft?
Thx
Nomadbird

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Theft at Chennai Museum
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2013, 07:01:27 PM »
I don't think he called the theft amusing, but that the theft could happen. However, brazen theft is not an Indian monopoly. Going back in time, the conservator of the French national coin collection stole what he was supposed to protect, a thief broke a glass case and ran out of the building with a unique gold bar with the VOC bale mark (it was probably melted down) and Napoleonic troops plundered the Dutch national coin collection and that's just what I can remember offhand.

This case smells like the police unable to keep pace with criminals. A dangerous situation.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Coinsforever

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Re: Theft at Chennai Museum
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2013, 01:47:22 AM »
Rather by reading news article I'm sad due to failure of complete system .More worry is it is just a news of one museum.  I'm sure too many museums inventory are mismatching or missing.

I can feel and understand remark of Aditya because here such theft are not happen by planning but facilitate by management , officials ,security with support of local police.


Cheers ;D
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Offline dheer

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Re: Theft at Chennai Museum
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2013, 07:09:29 AM »
So you are amused by the theft?
Amused by the strange things that can happen;
- We have almost no to few Museums where coins are displayed ...
- Even after the theft, we are still clueless as to what is missing ...
- The doors and windows are still ancient and one kick they all open up ...
- And at a time when we are saying coin markets have gone down ... says who
 ;D
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Offline Bimat

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Theft at Chennai Museum
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2013, 04:55:20 AM »
Cops claim clues in museum break-in

TNN | Dec 30, 2013, 12.08 AM IST

CHENNAI: The city police on Sunday claimed they had strong clues in their probe of the break-in at Government Museum in Egmore.

Police officers investigating the theft that was discovered on Saturday morning said it was the handiwork of two burglars. "We have strong leads and should corner some suspects within two days," an investigating officer said. "We hope to have concrete evidence of their involvement by then."

Police are reviewing the security at the police outpost in the museum and, where two armed guards are supposed to be posted at all times.

However, several questions remained unanswered two days after the break-in. Investigators and museum officials continued to maintain that only two replicas of Mughal coins were stolen. They could not explain why, having managed to break into the museum, the thieves took only two replica coins and left behind invaluable artefacts.

The mystery of the unbroken seal on the main entrance of the museum also has police flummoxed. If the burglars posed as visitors and hid in the museum when it was closed, how did they escape? A broken window on the second floor left an opening to narrow for a person to slip through and was too high to leap from.

But investigators were optimistic about being able to solve the case. "We have fingerprints from the crime scene," the investigating officer said.

Police were banking on surveillance camera footage but were disappointed when they saw that the output was grainy.

"The cameras do not have proper night vision but we managed to locate some movement in the footage," a police officer said. "It looks like a two-member gang broke in."

Police suspect it could have been an insider job and are questioning the curator and other staff who worked in the bronze gallery from where the coins were stolen.

The museum opened to visitors as usual on Sunday. The bronze gallery was closed on Saturday after the break-in.

"The locks that were broken in the first and the second floor have been repaired. We cross-checked the artefacts with the museum inventory and found that everything is intact. Nothing else has been stolen," a senior museum official said.

Museum sources said officials plan to suspend some of staff members, as the break-in exposed lapses in security.

Source: Times of India
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Offline cmerc

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Re: Theft at Chennai Museum
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2013, 08:31:55 AM »
First time I visited the New Delhi National Museum, as a novice collector, I was wowed by their British India and Mughal coin collection on display.  Beautiful, flawless UNC specimens of very rare issues!  In a more recent visit, armed with a little more experience, the coins did not look like genuine pieces but rather like electrotypes.  Probably most of the displayed pieces are electrotypes, with a few genuine pieces here and there. 

The theft in Madras Museum could very well be of electrotype copies.   The thieves probably made off with tokens with little value.  If not, the best we can hope for is that the coins are acquired by a private collector who will take better care of them. 
Defending this hobby against a disapproving family since 1998.

Offline Bimat

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Theft at Chennai Museum
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2013, 09:12:17 AM »
The article indeed mentions that replicas of ancient coins were stolen. Even in that case, they can't justify the theft...

Aditya
It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. -J. K. Rowling.

Offline rahulmamman

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Re: Theft at Chennai Museum
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2014, 04:52:39 PM »
Some reports also mention Jehangir and Shahjahan coins were stolen. Don't know what is true, but Zodiac Mohurs seem listed on the Museum's website - 2 of them in fact.

Can't be replicas as the way the police and authorities have reacted, I am sure a few good coins were stolen too.

Offline Coinsforever

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Re: Theft at Chennai Museum
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2014, 05:19:29 PM »
Unfortunately it is an organized crime . Here is another shocking article regarding  how's museums unknowingly buying rare Indian artifacts.

Indian-American art dealer palmed off stolen Indian artefacts
IANS | Dec 27, 2013, 09.53 PM IST

NEW YORK: The indictment of the girlfriend of Manhattan's Indian-American antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor has revealed the fake ownership histories of stolen Indian artefacts palmed off to museums across the world.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office has criminally charged Kapoor's girlfriend Selina Mohamed with participating in a decades-long conspiracy to launder stolen antiquities by creating false ownership histories.

She is also charged with, more recently, helping to hide four stolen bronze sculptures as investigators closed in on Kapoor, according to chasingaphrodite.com, a specialised art website tracking "looted antiquities in the world's museums".

Kapoor, described by federal investigators as one of the most prolific antiquities smugglers in the world, is now in custody in Chennai, where he is facing trial as the alleged mastermind of an international antiquities' smuggling ring, according to the website.

Selina Mohamed, who was arrested last Friday, was charged with four counts of criminal possession of stolen property and one count of conspiracy, court records show.

She is the third person criminally charged in the case, following the indictments of Kapoor's sister Sushma Sareen and gallery manager Aaron Freedman, who pleaded guilty to six criminal counts earlier this month.

There is also an arrest warrant out for Kapoor.

Prosecutors allege that since 1992 Selina Mohamed has been involved in the fabrication of bogus ownership histories for dozens of objects Kapoor sold to museums around the world.

Since 2007, she also had nominal control over several of Kapoor's storage facilities.

The possession charges relate to Mohamed's alleged role in the disappearance of four of Kapoor's stolen bronze sculptures -- two of Shiva and two of Uma -- valued at $14.5 million.

Kapoor instructed his gallery manager to send the Chola-era bronzes to Mohamed's house in November 2011, the complaint states.

After federal agents with Homeland Security Investigations searched Kapoor's Art of the Past gallery and storage facilities in January 2012, Mohamed insisted that the bronzes be removed from her house. They are now missing.

Mohamed allegedly created false provenance for several Kapoor objects, according to chasingaphrodite.com.

Among the artefacts identified in the complaint for the first time are a 10th-11th century sculpture of Lakshmi Narayana from northern India, now at the National Gallery of Australia.

The NGA bought it from Kapoor in 2006 for $375,000, records show. As Kapoor noted in promotional materials, "the treatment of the eyes is similar to that of another Lakshmi-Narayana from the temple at Khajuraho," a world heritage site in Madhya Pradesh that contains some of the greatest masterpieces of Indian art.

Also listed is a gilded 18th century altar from Goa showing the Virgin Mary at Singapore's Asian Civilisation's Museum.

Kapoor sold it to the museum in 2009 for $135,000, describing it as "one of the most important and unique examples of Goanese art to appear on the market in over a generation".

For the first time, Friday's criminal complaint lists several American museums that purchased objects from Kapoor and his associates, who the complaint says attempted to launder them with fabricated ownership histories.

They include, according to chasingaphrodite.com, a 12th century Vishnu Trivrikrama at the University of Florida's Harn Museum in Gainsville, Florida and a 19th century painting at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.

Mohamed also allegedly provided false provenance for a torso of a Vedata that was reported as stolen from Madhya Pradesh state's Karitalai village in 2006 on the Interpol database, the complaint said.

Source : TOI
« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 01:30:52 AM by aan09 »
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