Hedge fund pioneer Michael Steinhardt surrenders stolen antiquities, Vance says

Michael Steinhardt

Scott Eells | Bloomberg | Getty Pictures

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

The give up of the gadgets comes after a probe that started in 2017 into Steinhardt’s “felony conduct,” the DA’s workplace stated in a press release saying an settlement with the billionaire to surrender the paintings.

“The seized items have been looted and illegally smuggled out of 11 nations, trafficked by 12 felony smuggling networks, and lacked verifiable provenance previous to showing on the worldwide artwork market, in accordance with the Assertion of Details summarizing the investigation,” the workplace stated.

The settlement, filed in Manhattan Supreme Courtroom, ends a grand jury probe of Steinhardt, which means he is not going to be criminally charged within the case, in accordance with the DA’s workplace.

Vance stated the settlement with Steinhardt, 80, will consequence within the stolen gadgets being returned to their rightful house owners in these nations as a substitute of being held as proof “to finish the grand jury indictment, trial, potential conviction and sentence.”

The settlement comes three years after Steinhardt’s workplace and residential have been raided by investigators as a part of Vance’s probe. The DA stated Steinhardt’s settlement to just accept a lifetime ban from buying antiquities was “unprecedented.” The deal defines antiquities are artifacts created earlier than 1500 A.D.

Objects submitted in a Grand Jury Investigation into a non-public New York Antiquities Assortment.

Supply: New York District Attorneys Workplace

“Despite the fact that Steinhardt’s decades-long indifference to the rights of peoples to their very own sacred treasures is appalling, the pursuits of justice previous to indictment and trial favor a decision that ensures {that a} substantial portion of the injury to world cultural heritage will likely be undone, as soon as and for all,” Vance stated.

The settlement notes that Steinhardt, who paid greater than $26 million for the surrendered gadgets, “maintains that he didn’t commit any crimes associated to his acquisition, possession, or sale of any antiquities.”

And the settlement additionally notes that the sellers who offered items to Steinhardt on greater than 20 events falsely claimed to him that that they had the authorized proper to promote the objects.

However, Vance’s workplace “maintains that the proof would set up at trial that Steinhardt purchased, offered, and in any other case dealt in antiquities and that he knew, or ought to have ascertained by affordable inquiry, that the antiquities listed in Exhibit A have been stolen,” the settlement says.

“Nonetheless, [Vance’s office] has decided that the equities on this case and the pursuits of justice previous to indictment and trial favor the decision embodied on this Settlement.”

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

Objects submitted in a Grand Jury Investigation into a non-public New York Antiquities Assortment.

Steinhardt’s legal professionals, Andrew Levander and Theodore Wells Jr., in a press release, stated, “Mr. Steinhardt is happy that the District Legal professional’s years-long investigation has concluded with none costs, and that gadgets wrongfully taken by others will likely be returned to their native nations.”

“Lots of the sellers from whom Mr. Steinhardt purchased these things made particular representations as to the sellers’ lawful title to the gadgets, and to their alleged provenance,” the legal professionals stated. “To the extent these representations have been false, Mr. Steinhardt has reserved his rights to hunt recompense from the sellers concerned.”

The DA’s workplace stated the probe started when investigators seemed right into a statue of a Lebanese bull’s head, which was stolen in the course of the Lebanese Civil Warfare.

That investigation decided Steinhardt had purchased the statue, which is at the moment valued at $12 million, and later loaned it to the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork in New York Metropolis, 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 tens of millions of {dollars}. The calf bearer is now valued at $10 million, in accordance with the settlement.

Objects submitted in a Grand Jury Investigation into a non-public New York Antiquities Assortment.

Supply: New York District Attorneys Workplace

“Within the means of uncovering the Lebanese statues, the D.A.’s Workplace discovered that Steinhardt possessed extra looted antiquities at his condominium and workplace, and, quickly after, initiated a grand jury felony investigation into his acquisition, possession, and sale of greater than 1,000 antiquities since at the least 1987,” the workplace stated.

“As a part of this inquiry into felony conduct by Steinhardt, the D.A.’s Workplace 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,” it stated.

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Vance stated in a press release, “For many years, Michael Steinhardt displayed a rapacious urge for food for plundered artifacts with out concern for the legality of his actions, the legitimacy of the items he purchased and offered, or the grievous cultural injury he wrought throughout the globe.”

“His pursuit of ‘new’ additions to showcase and promote knew no geographic or ethical boundaries, as mirrored within the sprawling underworld of antiquities traffickers, crime bosses, cash launderers, and tomb raiders he relied upon to develop his assortment,” Vance stated.

Objects submitted in a Grand Jury Investigation into a non-public New York Antiquities Assortment.

Supply: New York District Attorneys Workplace

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

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

The Steinhardt Basis for Jewish Life known as the Instances report “deliberately defamatory.”

However in a press release, the inspiration additionally stated Steinhardt’s “humorousness might be insensitive, and he has apologized for the unintended dangerous emotions his remarks have induced.” The web site features a assertion from the billionaire, who denies ever making an attempt to the touch anybody inappropriately. 

Vance’s workplace detailed quite a few the gadgets 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 Workplace utilized for and acquired a warrant to grab it. Right now, 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 Alexander by way of Seychelles-headquartered FAM Providers for $575,000 in October 2016. Alexander instructed Steinhardt to pay FAM Providers by way of Satabank, a Malta-based monetary establishment later suspended for cash laundering. Whereas complaining a few subpoena requesting provenance documentation for a special stolen antiquity, Steinhardt pointed to the Larnax and stated to an investigator with A.T.U.: “You see this piece? There is no provenance for it. If I see a bit and I prefer it, then I purchase it.” Right now, the Larnax is valued at $1 million.     
  • The Ercolano Fresco bought from convicted antiquities trafficker Robert Hecht 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, positioned close to trendy Naples within the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. It first appeared on the worldwide artwork market on November 10, 1995 when Hecht’s enterprise associate wrote Steinhardt concerning a “crate being delivered to you quickly” with the artifact inside. Right now, the Ercolano Fresco is valued at $1 million.
  • The Gold Bowl looted from Nimrud, Iraq, and bought from Svyatoslav Konkin with no prior provenance for $150,000 in July 2020. Starting 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 historic objects fabricated from gold or treasured steel. 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 Workplace that Konkin was on a flight from Hong Kong to Newark, New Jersey, hand-carrying the Gold Bowl for Steinhardt. Right now, the Gold Bowl is valued at $200,000.     
  • Three Dying Masks bought from recognized antiquities trafficker Gil Chaya with no provenance by any means for $400,000 in October 2007, lower than a 12 months after they surfaced on the worldwide artwork market. The Dying Masks (circa 6000 to 7000 B.C.E.) have been crafted from stone and originated within the foothills of the Judean mountains, more than likely within the Shephelah in Israel. They seem soil-encrusted and lined in filth in images recovered by Israeli law-enforcement authorities. Right now, the Dying Masks are valued at $650,000. 

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