WorldWealthy collector returns $ 70 million in stolen antiques

Wealthy collector returns $ 70 million in stolen antiques


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A famous American art collector, billionaire and philanthropist Michael Steinhardt, has returned 180 works of art and antiques stolen from around the world in recent decades, worth $ 70 million. Some come from ancient Greece, New York justice announced.

Prosecutor Cyrus Vance’s announcement, the result of years of investigation, allows Michael Steinhardt, 80, to escape indictment and trial for the time being. But he was banned for life from acquiring antiques on the legal art market.

A “voracious appetite”

In a statement, the prosecutor denounced “the voracious appetite for decades of Michael Steinhardt for looted objects, without worrying about the legality of his actions, nor of the legitimacy of the parts which he bought and sold, nor of the seriousness of the cultural damage it was committing all over the world ”.

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He accused the New York collector and financier, whose fortune is estimated by Forbes at $ 1.2 billion, of not respecting any “geographic or moral border” and of “relying on antique dealers, bosses organized crime and money laundering and grave robbers, in order to increase its collections ”.

A figure of New York philanthropy

Michael Steinhardt has been the subject of searches in recent years of his office and his apartment on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue by the services of the attorney Vance, who has made the return of stolen works of art one of his priorities. . Figure of finance and New York philanthropy – with the fortune amassed by a hedge fund – Steinhardt is a lover of Greek antiques and gave his name to a gallery of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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According to Cyrus Vance, the 180 works of art “will be returned as quickly as possible to their rightful owners in 11 countries”. Among them is a Greek stag-headed rhyton dating from 400 BC valued at $ 3.5 million and an ancient Greek larnax from 1,400-1,200 BC estimated at $ 1 million.

The prosecutor appeared to rule out the prospect of a trial. While underlining Michael Steinhardt’s “indifference” “to the rights of peoples over their own sacred treasures”, Cyrus Vance considered it preferable to quickly return these pieces rather than “keep them as evidence for years”, allowing the accused to avoid trial. “The agreement stipulates that Steinhardt will be subject to an unprecedented lifetime ban on the acquisition of antiques,” said the prosecutor.


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