A fortnight after seizing a painting by famous Spanish artist Francisco de Goya, known as the father of modern art, the police are unable to verify its authenticity as the state archaeological department has said it cannot comment on the issue.
The police stumbled upon the 1823 painting, called ‘Saturn Devouring His Son’, at the Oshiwara residence of real estate agent Majeed Sultan Khan during a raid, and could it be worth crores if established to be an original.
The artwork was thereafter handed over to department of archaeology to check if it was an authentic Goya. “The archaeological department has said that it is not in a position to determine if the painting is a Goya original. They have asked us to refer to the expert committee of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI),” said Pratap Dighavkar, deputy commissioner of police (zone IX).
According to the standard procedure, the police have to alert the Interpol when such artwork is found, and the agency gets its experts to establish the authenticity and provenance of the painting, said Mumbai-based art conservationist Anupam Sah (see box). However, sub-inspector Vishnu Rathore of Oshiwara police station said that neither the Interpol nor the Spanish embassy has yet been intimated as the police first want to establish its authenticity.
He said that painting will be sent to the ASI and the future course of action will be decided after it submits a report. “We have not arrested Khan until now, although he was brought in for questioning. If it is determined that the painting is a fake, appropriate sections of the copyright act and the Indian Penal Code will be pressed against him,” Rathore said.
“Khan claims it is a Goya original and spoke proudly of its history and importance. He said that it is worth crores of rupees. But its genuineness will be determined only after the ASI report is available,” said Rathore.
The police said that they are also trying to learn more about the artwork through other means. “We are seeking information from artists and experts who know about Goya and his work. We have also referred to the internet, but have not been able to learn much about the painting,” said Dighavkar.