National Gallery of Australia

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.

Shiva as Nataraja, Lord of the Dance.

 

About Samuel J

Samuel J has an economics background and is a part-time consultant
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17 Responses to National Gallery of Australia

  1. Rabz

    Wonderful – and not just the piece pictured either, it seems.

    I also won’t hold my breath waiting for the incompetent public servant idiot(s) responsible for this outrageous waste of taxpayers’ money to be fired.

    Inexcusable.

  2. Token

    Wait, they are lefty luvvies, why are the not getting a pass for trading in stolen goods?

  3. Adam d

    Can anyone explain to me why the taxpayer is spending 5milluon in shit Indian art? In fact I don’t care if it’s fantastic Indian art anything above pennies is a disgrace. Give me a crack at this years budget and your income returns will be huge

  4. Baldrick

    There’s a lot more to the story you can read here at this excellent website.

    The National Gallery of Australia acknowledges it purchased 21 other objects from Kapoor’s gallery between 2002 and 2011, and we’ve detailed similar damning photos and forged ownership histories for objects valued at nearly $10 million.

  5. Beertruk

    All purchases of the NGA should be fully disclosed: how they were purchased, from whom, the provenance and the price paid.

    I can’t understand why they weren’t. My last job in the ADF (ARMY) was Local Procurement for the unit I was posted to. Every time I expended funds on behalf of the Commonwealth, I had to justify and document the expenditure and reasons for the procurement of the goods and services.
    It is all covered in Financial Legislation and Audit Act 1901.
    However, in 1994, three bills were drawn up which were intended to replace the 1901 Audit Act :
    1. Financial and Accountability Bill,
    2. Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Bill, and
    3. the Auditors Bill.

    The main purpose of the Financial and Accountability Bill is to put responsibility for the management of affairs of an Agency in a way that ‘promotes proper use of Commonwealth resources , on the Chief Executive or Secretary of the Agency’. The Bills were introduced in 1997 and the Audit Act of 1901 was repealed.
    There are penalties for the intentional misuse of fraudulent use of public monies. These clowns in the NGA should know all of this.

  6. Token

    Can anyone explain to me why the taxpayer is spending 5milluon in shit Indian art?

    Sh*t or not, what is really unique about the piece?

    This is fundementally an unnecessary purchase.

    That statue is very bog standard, you can get a dozen brass statues of a similar nature from Bali for $SU20.

  7. Zatara

    Sh*t or not what is Australian about the piece?

    National museums do international traveling road shows of their cultural exhibits of interest all the time. So why does the National Gallery OF Australia think they need to OWN artifacts of other cultures? Particularly when they have to buy them?

    There is something distinctly monomaniacal about that in general, and not a little kleptomaniacal about that considering they are buying from thieves/fences.

  8. Zatara

    meglomaniacal rather… damn autocorrect!

  9. Myrddin Seren

    The National Gallery of Australia acknowledges it purchased 21 other objects from Kapoor’s gallery between 2002 and 2011, and we’ve detailed similar damning photos and forged ownership histories for objects valued at nearly $10 million.

    uh huh.

    I know – never subscribe to malice what can be attributed to incompetence.

    BUT

    based on some past experiences with less-than-ethical business people from the subcontinent…

    Shiva and 21 other objects de WTF from Mr Kapoor’s gallery !?

    Either Mr Kapoor struck gold with the gullible NGA buyers being the biggest rubes to leave Australia since Barry McKenzie or

    dare we ask – cui bono ?

    The Attorney General needs to buy in to this and have a look whether any Commonwealth funds went on a bit of a round robin trip via New York.

  10. Zatara

    Either Mr Kapoor struck gold with the gullible NGA buyers being the biggest rubes to leave Australia since Barry McKenzie or…”

    They got told to go forth, be multicultural and fill the shelves…and the money wasn’t coming out of their pockets?

  11. Myrddin Seren

    Zatara

    They got told to go forth, be multicultural and fill the shelves…and the money wasn’t coming out of their pockets?

    I acknowledge the simple explanation is gormless luvvies from Canberra adrift in the shark pool of New York minus a Mick Dundee to save them from the clutches of unscrupulous art thieves is the Occam’s Razor explanation.

    However, given the substantial sums of money involved, an apparent desire to keep returning to the same honey pot of objets de WTF that had no cultural relevance to Australia and my highly tuned scummy radar, my concern is not that the money being blown wasn’t coming out of their pockets – that out of control spending is a failure is a given here at The Cat.

    My concern is whether any of the Commonwealth’s money made its way back in to someone’s pocket ?

    The AG needs to buy in to this.

  12. Token

    The Attorney General needs to buy in to this and have a look whether any Commonwealth funds went on a bit of a round robin trip via New York.

    Paying money on a regular basis to dubious characters who are later found to be acting illegally, isn’t that normally grounds for a major investigation / royal commission into the activities from top to bottom?

  13. Gab

    The Attorney General needs to buy in to this and have a look whether any Commonwealth funds went on a bit of a round robin trip via New York.

    The AG is more likely to haul you to court for “vilifying” the NGA than being interested in what taxpayers’ funds have been spent.

  14. nic

    Nothing to see here, move along. Its not as if its a Liberal politician and a website that gives stars to different kinds of food. /sarc.

  15. Zatara

    Myrddin Seren

    I completely agree with you and was trying (poorly perhaps) to make a sideways point about the duty of those who spend the public dollar to use due diligence in doing so.

    Allow me to make up for it with a Liberty Qoute:

    “A truly moral nation enacts policies that encourage personal responsibility and discourage self-destructive behavior by not subsidizing people who live irresponsibly and make poor choices”

    (Like Leftists and apparently museum types)

    Dr Benjamin Carson

  16. Myrddin Seren

    No worries Zatara –

    This whole thing doesn’t pass the scummy test to me but I am mindful of Gab’s point even when I started to post on this that I am potentially risking an awful retribution for the 21st uber crime of hurting someone’s feelings.

  17. hzhousewife

    All our museums own vastly more stuff than can be
    displayed at once, until it all has all been displayed on
    rotation, how about we just NOT BUY ANY MORE STUFF.

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