Avoiding prosecution, Michael Steinhardt to return $ 70 million in looted antiques – .

Avoiding prosecution, Michael Steinhardt to return $ 70 million in looted antiques – .

JTA – Michael Steinhardt, the funder and megadonator of Jewish causes, has agreed to return 180 stolen antiques worth $ 70 million to their rightful homelands and never to collect ancient artifacts again.

In return, Steinhardt, a philanthropist who is chairman of the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life and co-founder of Birthright Israel, an organization that sends young Jews on free trips to Israel, will not face criminal charges for have acquired more than 1,000 coins which were illegally taken out of 11 countries including Egypt, Greece, Israel, Syria and Turkey, prosecutors said.

These are the terms of a deal Steinhardt finalized on Monday with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, whose office began investigating a Lebanese statue several years ago that Steinhardt loaned to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This statue, they concluded, had been illegally taken in Lebanon, making it countless other items that Steinhardt had amassed over the years, largely from countries in the Middle East.

Attorneys for Steinhardt and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance released separate statements on Monday, CNBC reported, with very different intentions: Steinhardt said he purchased the items in good faith, but Vance did not not buying them.

“For decades, Michael Steinhardt has displayed a rapacious appetite for looted artifacts regardless of the legality of his actions, the legitimacy of the pieces he bought and sold, or the severe cultural damage he caused to around the world, ”Vance said in a separate statement. .

“His quest for ‘new’ additions to present and sell knew no geographic or moral boundaries, as evidenced by the sprawling underworld of antique dealers, crime bosses, money launderers and grave robbers on which he counted to expand his collection. “

Pictured (L to R): The Larnax, Death Mask, and Stag Head Rhyton (Manhattan District Attorney’s Office)

Steinhardt’s lawyers have described their client as a well-meaning scapegoat.

” Sir. Steinhardt is pleased that the district attorney’s years of investigation has ended without charge, and that items illegally taken by others are being returned to their home countries, ”Steinhardt’s lawyers said. “Many dealers from whom Mr. Steinhardt purchased these items have made specific claims as to the merchants’ legitimate title to the items and their alleged provenance. “

Vance’s office conducted the investigation in cooperation with law enforcement in 11 countries, including Israel.

Some objects have been looted during conflicts in countries such as Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. Steinhardt loaned some to museums.

According to the CNBC report, the agreement between Steinhardt and Vance reveals that at least one of the items being repatriated, a box of human remains from Crete, was revealed to have been looted when Steinhardt mocked the investigators who were looking for another object. “Do you see this room?” He would have said. “There is no provenance for it. If I see a part and like it, then I buy it.

In the future, Steinhardt will be prohibited from acquiring objects created before AD 1500 for life.

In 2019, Steinhardt, 80, who helped found Birthright Israel and supports a wide range of Jewish institutions, was accused of making sexually inappropriate proposals and remarks to women who approached him in connection with their work in Jewish philanthropy or the arts. Steinhardt denied the accusations, but acknowledged a series of “rude, disrespectful and just plain stupid” comments.

Michael Steinhardt attends a meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on April 26, 2017 (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

Steinhardt, who turns 81 on Tuesday, founded hedge fund Steinhardt Partners in 1967 and closed it in 1995. He came out of retirement in 2004 to head Wisdom Tree Investments.

New York University named its Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development after Steinhardt in recognition of two donations of $ 10 million.

Objects donated by Steinhardt include a deer’s head in the form of a ceremonial vessel for libations, dating from 400 BC. The deer head is valued at $ 3.5 million, the state attorney said.

There was also the chest of human remains from the Greek island of Crete, called larnax and dating from around 1300 BC, which prosecutors say was purchased from a known antique dealer.

AP contributed to this report


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