Hindu goddess sculpture

Federal investigators say this 7-foot-tall sculpture of a Hindu goddess was stolen from a residence in India. Kapoor was trying to sell it for $15 million when it was seized by federal agents. (Manhattan District Attorney's office / November 30, 2006)

The manager of a prominent New York antiquities gallery pleaded guilty Wednesday in a Manhattan courtroom to six criminal charges related to trafficking in stolen art, authorities said.

For nearly two decades, Aaron Freedman, 41, managed Art of the Past on Madison Avenue, a major supplier of ancient art to museums and private collectors around the world, including LACMA and the Norton Simon Museum.

During that time, court records say Freedman helped gallery owner Subhash Kapoor manage an international network of looters, thieves and smugglers who pried artifacts from temples and ruins, laundered them with forged ownership histories and sold them to some of the world’s most prominent museums and collectors.

ART: Can you guess the high price?

Kapoor is currently facing trial in India as the alleged mastermind of the network.

The National Gallery of Australia announced Thursday that it will return to India a $5 million bronze sculpture purchased in 2008 from Kapoor, who the museum plans to sue.

For more on this story, go to chasingaphrodite.com.

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