NEW YORK (AP) – Dozens of looted antiquities seized from billionaire hedge fund founder Michael Steinhardt after a years-long investigation have been returned to the people of Greece, prosecutors in New York announced on Wednesday.
The artifacts included a sculpture of a young man from about 560 BC, known as a kouros, that is worth USD14 million, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said.
The district attorney’s office has accused Steinhardt of relying on a “sprawling underworld of antiquities traffickers, crime bosses, money launderers and tomb raiders” to build his collection.
The handover of the ancient objects to Greece occurred after the district attorney’s office announced a deal in December under which Steinhardt was to surrender USD70 million worth of artefacts acquired illegally from Greece and other countries including Egypt, Israel, Syria and Turkey.
Under the agreement, Steinhardt will not face criminal charges but is subject to an unprecedented lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities. Steinhardt is a co-founder of Birthright Israel and a philanthropist who is chair of the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life.
A total of 55 artefacts worth a collective USD20 million are being repatriated to Greece, prosecutors said, 47 of them from Steinhardt’s collection and eight from another ongoing investigation.