Many of the stolen antiquities were Hindu deities.
The US authorities have returned around 250 antiquities to India as part of a long-running investigation into a stolen art scheme.
The antiquities, worth around $15 million, were returned during a ceremony at the Indian Consulate in New York City on October 28, 2021.
A bronze Shiva Nataraja was the main antique, valued at $4 million.
The investigation was headed by the Manhattan district attorney’s office and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The investigation focused on antiquities that had been allegedly smuggled into the United States by dealer Subhash Kapoor.
Subhash has denied the allegations.
In a statement, District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr said:
“The case serves as a potent reminder that individuals who maraud sacred temples in pursuit of individual profit are committing crimes not only against a country’s heritage but also its present and future.”
Subhash was jailed in India and is facing charges there pending a US extradition request.
Six co-conspirators have also been convicted.
Authorities revealed that the dealer used his Arts of the Past gallery in New York to traffic antiquities from India.
The investigation has resulted in the recovery of 2,500 antiquities valued at $143 million.
A gallery operator who pleaded guilty in the case in October 2021 to charges of conspiracy and possession of stolen property sold the Shiva Nataraja bronze.
The Nataraja idol is a significant return to India as it went missing in 1971.
In April 2021, the Manhattan district attorney’s office returned 33 antiquities to Afghanistan.
Court papers in New York said that many of the stolen antiquities were Hindu deities.
It was also revealed that Subhash went to great lengths to acquire the pieces, including forging documents.
The papers revealed that Subhash looted antiquities from temples, homes and archaeological sites.
Around 13 of the antiquities were smuggled from various temples in Tamil Nadu.
Many of the artefacts were recovered from Subhash’s storage units in New York.
Subhash sent the antiquities to be cleaned and repaired before he illegally exported them to the U.S. from India.
India Pride Project is a group of art enthusiasts who work to restore stolen Indian antiquities.
S Vijay Kumar, co-founder of India Pride Project said:
“This is the single largest recitations of stolen antiquities to India.
“It is significant when we look at India’s track record.
“As a team, we are hoping to trace and restore 700 antiquities by next year.
“There were several idols that were traced to Germany, Australia, Singapore, and the UK.”