Standing down ... National Gallery of Australia Director Ron Radford will leave the institution later this year.

Standing down: National Gallery of Australia Director Ron Radford will leave the institution later this year. Photo: Jay Cronan

After 10 years at the helm, Ron Radford plans to retire from the National Gallery when his term expires in September.

The news does not come as a surprise to many in the art world, if only because his looming final months as director have long been flagged in the gallery's annual report.

Radford's announcement comes amid mounting controversy relating to the gallery's provenance and acquisition of the $5 million Dancing Shiva sculpture.

The gallery acquired the temple artefact six years ago, from fraudulent art dealer Subhash Kapoor, and is now suing the dealership in a New York court, seeking the return of the money it paid for the statue.

The statue is one of 21 works purchased by the gallery from Kapoor between 2002 and 2011.

Despite the timing, a spokesman at the gallery confirmed on Friday that Dr Radford had long planned to retire at the end of his term at the gallery on September 30, adding that he would be turning 65 this year.

As the gallery's fourth director, Dr Radford has overseen the construction of a new entrance and an entire new wing devoted to indigenous art.

He has also been responsible for the expansion of the gallery's collection of Asian art and artefacts, as well as the institution's most successful blockbuster exhibition to date – 2011's Masterpieces from Paris.

Dr Radford was not available for comment yesterday.