Oil paintings and artworks from House of Liechtenstein collection
A government-run Singapore museum said Thursday it was considering legal action against a prominent New York art gallery accused of selling stolen Asian artefacts. The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) said it was
monitoring court proceedings against the gallery, Art of the Past, and was ready to return any items found to have been stolen.
ACM said it had been alerted that two artefacts the museum had purchased may have been "sold illicitly" by the gallery.
A bronze sculpture of a Hindu goddess which ACM acquired in 2007 for $650,000 may have been stolen from India, the Singapore museum said in a press statement.
It added that a second artefact, a Virgin Mary and Christ altar bought in 2009 for $135,000, may have had its provenance documents -- which show the item's origins -- forged by the dealer.
ACM, which is run by Singapore's National Heritage Board (NHB), said it had bought 30 objects from Art of the Past between 1997 and 2010.
"ACM followed its acquisition procedures strictly and all possible checks were done on provenance at the point of purchase for the two artefacts," the museum said.
"ACM believed at the point of purchase that they were legally and ethically acquired."
It vowed to "take all necessary steps, in accordance with international laws and practice, to return any stolen or looted objects among the 30 artefacts" it purchased from the New York gallery.
It said the NHB was in touch with lawyers to recover the money used to buy the two works.
Art of the Past describes itself on its website as a "gallery specializing in fine art and antiquities from South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas"
The gallery said its customers include world-renowned museums, institutions and private collectors.