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Hedge Fund Icon Steinhardt Surrenders Stolen Antiquities, Receives Lifetime Ban

The 80-year-old investment luminary is surrendering 180 looted works valued at $70 million, and he's banned from the market.
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Hedge fund legend Michael Steinhardt has surrendered 180 stolen antiquities valued at $70 million, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced Monday.

The 80-year-old investment icon also “received a first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities,” Vance said in a statement.

The bust stemmed from a multi-year, multinational investigation into Steinhardt’s doings, Vance said, calling him “one of the world’s largest ancient art collectors.” 

Steinhardt’s hedge fund firm was Steinhardt Partners.

“The seized pieces were looted and illegally smuggled out of 11 countries, trafficked by 12 criminal smuggling networks, and lacked verifiable provenance prior to appearing on the international art market,” according to the D.A.’s office.

“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 said.

“His pursuit of ‘new’ additions to showcase and sell knew no geographic or moral boundaries, as reflected in the sprawling underworld of antiquities traffickers, crime bosses, money launderers, and tomb raiders he relied upon to expand his collection.”

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Among the pieces Steinhardt gave up, according to Vance’s office:

  • “The Stag’s Head Rhyton, depicting a finely wrought stag’s head in the form of a ceremonial vessel for libations. … The item, which dates to 400 B.C.E., first appeared without provenance on the international art market after rampant looting in Milas, Turkey. …
  • “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 Alexander.”

As for Steinhardt's side, his lawyers -- Andrew Levander from Dechert and Theodore Wells from Paul Weiss - said, 

"Mr. Steinhardt is pleased that the District Attorney’s years-long investigation has concluded without any charges, and that items wrongfully taken by others will be returned to their native countries. 

"Many of the dealers from whom Mr. Steinhardt bought these items made specific representations as to the dealers’ lawful title to the items, and to their alleged provenance. 

"To the extent these representations were false, Mr. Steinhardt has reserved his rights to seek recompense from the dealers involved."