Prosecutors: Looted antiquities seized from billionaire’s home

Michael Steinhardt looted antiquities

Three of the antiquities seized in the Friday, January 5, 2018 raid of Michael Steinhardt’s Manhattan office and residence. Image courtesy of New York County District Attorney’s office

NEW YORK (ACNI) – The New York County District Attorney’s office confirms that its investigators raided the Manhattan office and residence of billionaire hedge fund manager Michael H. Steinhardt on Friday. No fewer than nine antiquities were seized in total from the two Fifth Avenue locations. Prosecutors say the objects were looted from Greece and Italy.

Steinhardt has not been charged with any crimes, although the New York Times reports a possible charge listed on search warrants is “possession of stolen property.” In a telephone interview with the Times, Steinhardt, 77, reportedly declined to comment on the seizure “for now.”

According to the Times, the pieces seized during the raid were purchased over a 12-year period at a total cost of $1.1 million.

Steinhardt is a high-profile collector who serves on the American advisory board of Christie’s. A gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to Greek art of the 6th through 4th centuries BC is named for him and his wife, Judy. The couple is both immensely wealthy and philanthropically minded, donating large sums to a variety of charitable and educational causes both in the United States and abroad. In February 2017, Forbes Magazine estimated Michael Steinhardt’s net worth at $1.05 billion.

Michael Steinhardt looted antiquities

6th century BC Ionian ram’s head sculpture seized during the raid. Image courtesy of the New York County District Attorney’s Office

On December 15, 2017, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr announced the formation of his office’s first-ever Antiquities Trafficking Unit and confirmed the return of three ancient statues to the Lebanese Republic. At the time of the announcement, Vance commented: “When you put a price tag on these artifacts…it is all too easy to forget that these are not just valuable collector’s items — these are rare, celebrated remnants of entire civilizations’ culture and history.” He added that the Antiquities Trafficking Unit is “committed to stopping the trade of stolen antiquities from historic sites around the world.”

Click to read James C. McKinley Jr.’s New York Times article regarding the Steinhardt case.

Click to read about the Antiquities Trafficking Unit.

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