Last Friday, investigators from Manhattan district attorney raided the home and office of billionaire Michael Steinhardt, seizing at least nine ancient works which are said to be looted ancient art from Greece and Italy, as first reported by the New York Times.
Part of the artifacts seized from Steinhardt's home
Steinhardt bought these objects in the last 12 years for a total cost of US$1.1 million. Items confiscated from his collection include a pair of Proto-Corinthian figures of an owl and a duck from the 7th century BC (together worth about US$250,000); an Apulian terra-cotta flask in the shape of an African head from the 4th century BC (US$130,000); an lonian sculpture of a ram’s head from the 6th century; and an attic oil vessel from the early fifth century.
A pair of Proto-Corinthian figures of an owl and a duck from the 7th century BC
An Apulian terra-cotta flask in the shape of an African head from the 4th century BC
An lonian sculpture of a ram’s head from the 6th century
An attic oil vessel from the early fifth century
This seizure marked the recent crackdown on antiquities trafficking by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who has been working to repatriate looted antiquities found in New York City to their countries of origin. It has resulted in a series of seizures from museums, auction houses, and private collections.
Steinhardt, a hedge fund manager and philanthropist, has been a collector of ancient Greek works for over 30 years and has close ties to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where one of the galleries is named after him.
Last summer, the Met surrendered an ancient marble bull’s head with a history of over 2,300 years, which is suspected to be a stolen relic from Lebanese Civil War in the ‘80s. Michael Steinhardt bought the bull’s head in 2010 from the Beierwaltes and lent it to the Met. After learning its controversial provenance, Steinhardt returned the relic to the couple, who continued to lend the bull’s head to the Met until last July amid looting scandal.