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NEW YORK undefined A New Jersey man pleaded guilty Wednesday in New York City for his role in coordinating a large-scale conspiracy to sell stolen Indian antiquities worth tens of millions of dollars. The investigation leading to the guilty plea was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Aaron Freedman, 41, of Princeton, worked for nearly two decades as a manager at Art of the Past, a Manhattan art gallery that served as a front for the sale of stolen and looted Buddhist and Hindu statues. As the store’s manager, Freedman pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in the fourth degree for conspiring to criminally possess stolen property in the first degree, along with five counts of criminal possession of stolen property in the first degree. He admitted to assisting Art of the Past owner Subhash Kapoor, 64, with shipments of stolen antiquities from India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Cambodia, as well as providing false provenances. As part of the conspiracy, Freedman assisted with the sale of stolen artwork to galleries and museums across the world, which included the sale of a stolen $5 million Shiva Nataraja statue looted from the Sivan Temple in India, which is now on display at the National Gallery of Australia and the attempted sale of a 2nd century B.C. Bharhut Stupa Yaksi pillar sculpture valued at approximately $15 million, which is now in HSI NY custody pending forfeiture.