So the NGA has been caught buying objects with poor provenance and against the explicit rules of the Australian Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986.
The Indian Government is requesting the return of Dancing Shiva (bought in 2008 for $5.1 million from New York arts dealer Subhash Kapoor). Kapoor is in jail in Indian awaiting trial for the theft of antiquities.
The NGA has a poor record of cultural acquisition, yet we do not know how it has acquired many of its treasures, and how much has been paid. Since it uses taxpayers’ money for the acquisitions, we are all on the hook if it makes an illegal purchase and is forced to return the object to its country of origin.
All purchases of the NGA should be fully disclosed: how they were purchased, from whom, the provenance and the price paid. We, the taxpayers of Australia, deserve no less. Absolute transparency should be the rule.
The Government should bring forward amendments to the Australian Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act of 1986 to mandate that transparency.