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Hedge fund pioneer Michael Steinhardt surrenders stolen antiquities, Vance says


Michael Steinhardt

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Michael Steinhardt, philanthropist and pioneer of hedge funds, has turned over 180 stolen antiquities worth $70million and was banned from ever acquiring them.

In a statement, the DA’s office stated that the surrender of the items is the result of a 2017 investigation into Steinhardt’s “criminal behavior.” According to the DA’s office, this agreement will end a grand jury investigation of Steinhardt. He won’t be charged criminally in that case.

According to the statement of facts summarizing the investigation, the office stated that the seized items were illegally smuggled from 11 countries and trafficked through 12 criminal smuggling network. They also lacked verifiable provenance before appearing on the international market.

Vance stated that the 80-year-old Steinhardt agreement will see the items returned to the rightful owners, rather than being used as evidence in the “grand jury indictment,” trial, possible conviction, and sentence.

The agreement comes three years after Steinhardt’s office and home were raided by investigators as part of Vance’s probe. According to the DA, Steinhardt’s acceptance of a lifetime ban on antiquities acquisition was unprecedented.

Vance declared that Steinhardt’s decade-long disregard for the rights of other peoples to their sacred treasures is regrettable. The interests of justice, prior to trial and indictment, favor a resolution which ensures that an important portion of the damage done to world cultural heritage can be undone.

Steinhardt started Steinhardt Partners LLP back in 1967. The hedge fund was closed by Steinhardt in 1995. Steinhardt also served 15 years as chairman of the boardOf Wisdom Tree InvestmentsBe sure to retire before 2019.

Andrew Levander (Stillard’s lawyer) and Theodore Wells Jr. (his attorney), released statements saying that Mr. Steinhardt is happy that the years-long District Attorney investigation was concluded without any criminal charges. Items wrongfully taken will be returned to their home countries.

The lawyer stated that many of the dealers Mr. Steinhardt purchased these items from made explicit representations about the lawful titles and provenance of those dealers. To the extent that these representations were false Mr. Steinhardt reserved the right to pursue recompense against the involved dealers.

The DA’s Office stated that investigators began the investigation when they looked at the statue of a Lebanese Bull’s Head, stolen in the Lebanese Civil War.

The office stated that Steinhardt was found to have purchased and loaned the multi-million dollar statue to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. This statue, along with a second marble statue depicting a calf bearer was taken into custody. Both statues were also from Lebanon and had been purchased by Steinhardt.

The D.A. discovered the statues of Lebanese people during the course of their investigation.According to the Office, Steinhardt was found with additional looted antiquities from his apartment and his office. The office initiated a grand jury criminal investigation into Steinhardt’s purchase, possession, sale, and transfer of more than 1000 antiquities between 1987 and 1993.

“As part this investigation into Steinhardt’s criminal conduct, the D.A.The’s Office issued 17 search warrants that were judicially ordered and carried out joint investigations in cooperation with law enforcement authorities in eleven countries, including Bulgaria, Egypt and Syria.

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Vance said in a statement, “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,”

Vance explained that Vance was driven to find ‘new additions’ to show and sell. He relied on the vast network of crime bosses and money launderers to increase his collection.

In 2019, The New York TimesIt was reported that six women had accused Steinhardt of sexual harassment. He deniedThe allegations.

The Times also reported on a case filed by another woman that Steinhardt made sexual requests to the philanthropist when they were seeking support. The Times reported Steinhardt was named in both sexual harassment cases, although he wasn’t listed as defendant.

Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life labelled the Times’ report as “intentionally offensive.”

The foundation released a statement saying that Steinhardt’s sense of humor could be inappropriate and that he had apologized for any unintended negative feelings his comments caused. This website also contains a statement by Steinhardt, who claims he has never touched anyone inappropriately. 

Vance’s office provided details on a variety of items that Steinhardt had surrendered.

You will find:

  • The Stag’s Hair Rhyton is a depiction of a well-crafted stag head that can be used as a container for libations. The Rhyton was bought from The Merrin Gallery and cost $2.6 million. This item dates back to 400 B.C.E. and was first seen on the international art markets after widespread looting in Milas. Turkey. Steinhardt loaned to the Met the Stag’s Head Rhyton in March 1993. It remained there until the D.A.The warrant was issued by the’s Office to seize the item. The Stag’s Head Rheinty is currently valued at $3.5 Million.     
  • The Larnax, a small chest for human remains from Greek Island of Crete that dates between 1400-1200 B.C.E., purchased from known antiquities trafficker Eugene Alexandervia Seychelles-headquartered FAM Services for $575,000 in October 2016. Alexander directed Steinhard to make payment via Satabank. This financial institution is based in Malta and later banned for money laundering. Steinhardt pointed at the Larnax while complaining about an unauthorized subpoena for proof documentation regarding a second stolen antiquity and told him to contact A.T.U.Steinhardt: “You can see the piece?” You don’t have to prove it. When I find a piece that I like, I will buy it. The Larnax today is worth $1 million.     
  • Robert Hechtand, a convicted antiquities dealer and Harry Burki, an antiquities restorer for $650,000 purchased the Ercolano Fresco with no previous provenance. The Ercolano Fresco depicts an infant Hercules strangling the snake sent by Hera. It dates back to 50 C.E. The Ercolano Fresco was taken from a Roman villa near the ruin of Herculaneum. It is located in the shadows of Mount Vesuvius. Steinhardt, Hecht’s business associate wrote Steinhardt about a “crate being shipped to you soon” that contained the artifact. The Ercolano Fresco today is worth $1 million.
  • In July 2020, the Gold Bowl, a loot from Nimrud in Iraq was purchased by Svatoslav Kongin for $150,000. Since 2015 objects taken from Nimrud have been trafficked by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which targeted Nimrud’s cultural heritage, Hatra and Khorsabad. This included ancient gold and precious metal objects. The Gold Bowl is made from gold and features a scalloped floral design. It first appeared on the international art marketplace in October 2019.According to the’s Office, Konkin was hand-carrying Steinhardt’s Gold Bowl on a flight between Hong Kong and Newark, New Jersey. Today the Gold Bowl has a value of $200,000.     
  • Three Death Masks were purchased by GIL CHAYA, a well-known antiquities dealer. They were bought for $400,000 October 2007 from no source. This was less than one year after their appearance on the international art marketplace. They were made between 6000 and 7000 B.C.E. These Death Masks, which were made of stone from the Judean Mountains’ foothills between 6000 and 7000 B.C.E.  Photographs taken by Israeli law enforcement authorities show that they are soil-encrusted with dirt. The Death Masks today are worth $650,000 
Mike Robinson
Mike covers the financial, utilities and biotechnology sectors for Street Register. He has been writing about investment and personal finance topics for almost 12 years. Mike has an MBA in Finance from Wake Forest University.