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World NewsHedge fund pioneer Michael Steinhardt surrenders stolen antiquities, Vance says

Hedge fund pioneer Michael Steinhardt surrenders stolen antiquities, Vance says

Michael Steinhardt

Scott Eells | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Hedge fund pioneer and philanthropist Michael Steinhardt has surrendered 180 stolen antiquities valued at $70 million and has been banned for all times from buying antiquities, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. stated Monday.

The give up of the objects comes after a probe that started in 2017 into the billionaire Steinhardt’s “criminal conduct,” the DA’s workplace stated in an announcement. The settlement ends a grand jury probe of Steinhardt, which means he is not going to be criminally charged within the case, in line with DA’s workplace.

“The seized pieces were looted and illegally smuggled out of 11 countries, trafficked by 12 criminal smuggling networks, and lacked verifiable provenance prior to appearing on the international art market, according to the Statement of Facts summarizing the investigation,” the workplace stated.

Vance stated that the settlement with Steinhardt, 80, will return the stolen objects to their rightful homeowners in these nations, as a substitute of being held as proof “to complete the grand jury indictment, trial, potential conviction and sentence.”

The settlement comes three years after Steinhardt’s office and home were raided by investigators as part of Vance’s probe. The DA stated Steinhardt’s settlement to just accept a lifetime ban from buying antiquities was “unprecedented.”

“Even though Steinhardt’s decades-long indifference to the rights of peoples to their own sacred treasures is appalling, the interests of justice prior to indictment and trial favor a resolution that ensures that a substantial portion of the damage to world cultural heritage will be undone, once and for all,” Vance stated.

Steinhardt based his firm Steinhardt Partners LLP in 1967. He closed the hedge fund in 1995. Steinhardt also served 15 years as chairman of the board of Wisdom Tree Investments earlier than retiring in 2019.

Steinhardt’s attorneys, Andrew Levander and Theodore Wells Jr., in an announcement, stated, “Mr. Steinhardt is pleased that the District Attorney’s years-long investigation has concluded without any charges, and that items wrongfully taken by others will be returned to their native countries.”

“Many of the dealers from whom Mr. Steinhardt bought these items made specific representations as to the dealers’ lawful title to the items, and to their alleged provenance,” the lawyer stated. “To the extent these representations were false, Mr. Steinhardt has reserved his rights to seek recompense from the dealers involved.”

The DA’s workplace stated that the probe started when investigators regarded into the statue of a Lebanese bull’s head, which was stolen throughout the Lebanese Civil War.

That investigation decided Steinhardt had purchased that multi-million-dollar statue and later loaned it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the workplace stated. That statue was seized, as was a second marble statue of a calf bearer, which additionally was from Lebanon, and which had additionally been purchased by Steinhardt for thousands and thousands of {dollars}.

“In the process of uncovering the Lebanese statues, the D.A.’s Office learned that Steinhardt possessed additional looted antiquities at his apartment and office, and, soon after, initiated a grand jury criminal investigation into his acquisition, possession, and sale of more than 1,000 antiquities since at least 1987, the office said.

“As a part of this inquiry into legal conduct by Steinhardt, the D.A.’s Office executed 17 judicially-ordered search warrants and performed joint investigations with law-enforcement authorities in 11 nations: Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, and Turkey.

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Vance stated in an announcement, “For decades, Michael Steinhardt displayed a rapacious appetite for plundered artifacts without concern for the legality of his actions, the legitimacy of the pieces he bought and sold, or the grievous cultural damage he wrought across the globe,”

“His pursuit of ‘new’ additions to showcase and sell knew no geographic or moral boundaries, as reflected in the sprawling underworld of antiquities traffickers, crime bosses, money launderers, and tomb raiders he relied upon to expand his collection,” Vance stated.

In 2019, The New York Times reported that six girls had accused Steinhardt of sexual harassment. He denied the allegations.

The Times report, which additionally cited a lawsuit filed by one other lady, stated he had made sexual requests when the ladies sought help from the philanthropist. The Times additionally reported that Steinhardt appeared in two sexual harassment lawsuits, however was not named as a defendant in both case.

The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life known as the Times report “intentionally defamatory.”

But in an announcement, the inspiration additionally stated Steinhardt’s “sense of humor can be insensitive, and he has apologized for the unintended bad feelings his remarks have caused.” The web site features a assertion from the billionaire, who denies ever making an attempt to the touch anybody inappropriately. 

Vance’s workplace detailed various the objects surrendered by Steinhardt.

They embody:

  • The Stag’s Head Rhyton, depicting a finely wrought stag’s head within the type of a ceremonial vessel for libations, bought from The Merrin Gallery for $2.6 million in November 1991. The merchandise, which dates to 400 B.C.E., first appeared with out provenance on the worldwide artwork market after rampant looting in Milas, Turkey. In March 1993, Steinhardt loaned the Stag’s Head Rhyton to the Met, the place it remained till the D.A.’s Office utilized for and acquired a warrant to grab it. Today, the Stag’s Head Rhyton is valued at $3.5 million.     
  • The Larnax, a small chest for human stays from Greek Island of Crete that dates between 1400-1200 B.C.E., bought from recognized antiquities trafficker Eugene Alexandervia Seychelles-headquartered FAM Services for $575,000 in October 2016. Alexander instructed Steinhard to pay FAM Services by way of Satabank, a Malta-based monetary establishment later suspended for cash laundering. While complaining a couple of subpoena requesting provenance documentation for a unique stolen antiquity, Steinhardt pointed to the Larnax and stated to an investigator with A.T.U.: “You see this piece? There’s no provenance for it. If I see a piece and I like it, then I buy it.” Today, the Larnax is valued at $1 million.     
  • The Ercolano Fresco bought from convicted antiquities trafficker Robert Hechtand and his antiquities restorer Harry Burki with no prior provenance for $650,000 in November 1995. Depicting an toddler Hercules strangling a snake despatched by Hera to slay him, the Ercolano Fresco dates to 50 C.E. and was looted in 1995 from a Roman villa within the ruins of Herculaneum, situated close to fashionable Naples within the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. It first appeared on the worldwide artwork market on November 10, 1995 when Hecht’s enterprise accomplice wrote Steinhardt relating to a “crate being delivered to you soon” with the artifact inside. Today, the Ercolano Fresco is valued at $1 million.
  • The Gold Bowl looted from Nimrud, Iraq, and bought from Svatoslav Konkin with no prior provenance for $150,000 in July 2020. Beginning in 2015, objects from Nimrud have been trafficked when the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) focused cultural heritage from Nimrud, Hatra, and Khorsabad, notably historical objects manufactured from gold or treasured metallic. The Gold Bowl, which is crafted from gold with a scalloped flower design, first surfaced on the worldwide artwork market in October 2019, when a Customs and Border Patrol officer notified the D.A.’s Office that Konkin was on a flight from Hong Kong to Newark, New Jersey, hand-carrying the Gold Bowl for Steinhardt. Today, the Gold Bowl is valued at $200,000.     
  • Three Death Masks bought from recognized antiquities trafficker GIL CHAYA with no provenance in any way for $400,000 in October 2007, lower than a 12 months after they surfaced on the worldwide artwork market. The Death Masks (circa 6000 to 7000 B.C.E.) have been crafted from stone and originated within the foothills of the Judean mountains, almost certainly within the Shephelah in Israel.  They seem soil-encrusted and lined in dust in pictures recovered by Israeli law-enforcement authorities. Today, the Death Masks are valued at $650,000. 


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