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New York officials send 142 looted artifacts back to Italy



Officials in New York have handed back 142 stolen antiquities to Italy during a ceremony on Wednesday. The items have a value of $14 million.

Included in the antiquities was a 2,000-year-old fresco showing a snake being strangled by a young looking Hercules. This item is worth an estimated $1 million and was stolen from an archaeological site near Mount Vesuvius in 1995, according to The New York Times.

Other items included statues, sculptures, ceremonial vessels, death masks and a helmet that is believed to have belonged to Alexander The Great’s father.

Approximately one-third of the items once belonged to hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt before they were seized. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office noted that Steinhardt was a well known art collector.

According to investigators familiar with the case, Steinhardt purchased 47 items without doing any due diligence on the ownership history. The investigation into Steinhardt, which has gone on for several years, looked into over 1000 items that were linked to Steinhardt.

Steinhardt managed to avoid any charges by agreeing to surrender $70 million dollars’ worth of assets to the investigators and agree to what investigators referred to as an “unprecedented” lifetime ban on any collecting any form of art.

The investigation was concluded in December 2021, and New York’s attorney General at that time Cy Vance, Jr. said that 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.”

The lawyers representing Steinhardt said that their client was happy that the investigaton had now come to an end with no charges “and that items wrongfully taken by others will be returned to their native countries,” per CNN.

Steinhardt’s lawyers said in his defense that “many” dealers who sold antiquities to Steinhardt had “made specific representations as to the dealers’ lawful title to the items, and to their alleged provenance,” adding: “To the extent these representations were false, Mr. Steinhardt has reserved his rights to seek recompense from the dealers involved.”

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