Sculpture collection 'gifted to Mumbai museum'

11th Sep 2012

A bounty of treasured Indian sculptures is set to head back to the country thanks to a donation from the chairman of a Swiss pharmaceutical group, according to reports.

Novartis chief Daniel Vasella is reportedly handing over his entire personal collection of ancient Indian sculptures to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in Mumbai.

The Indian Express reported the treasure trove could include more than 800 bronze statues, although Novartis officials were awaiting the green light from the Indian government for the transfer process.

"These are ethnographic pieces," a museum official told the news provider. "Most date back to the 1930s, so while these are not ancient works, they are quite interesting and well-maintained.

"The Novartis chairman expressed his desire to bring back the collection to India and our trust accepted the proposal.

"We have sought that customs duty be waived and the Ministry of Culture is at work to facilitate the transfer."

The treasure trove is reportedly sitting at a shipping warehouse ready for transportation, but the process requires the Archaeological Survey of India to complete a valuation and produce a duty exemption certificate before transportation can begin.

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