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Monday, January 24, 2022

Billionaire Steinhardt Rents $ 70 Million Antiques and Accepts Collecting Ban: Manhattan, DC

NEW YORK. Hedge fund billionaire and philanthropist Michael Steinhardt turned in $ 70 million in stolen antiques and passed a first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on antiquities for a criminal investigation, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said Monday.

Vance said his investigation, which began in February 2017, found “overwhelming evidence” that 180 antiques were stolen from 11 countries, with at least 171 items going through merchants prior to Steinhardt’s purchase.

“For decades, Michael Steinhardt has displayed a predatory appetite for looted artifacts without worrying about the legitimacy of his actions, the legitimacy of the works he bought and sold, or the serious cultural damage he caused around the world,” Vance said in a statement.

Steinhardt denied a felony in the adjudication of the case, which ended a grand jury investigation into his case.

His lawyers, Andrew Levander and Theodore Wells, said in a joint statement that Steinhardt was pleased that the investigation had been completed and that “items illegally seized by others will be returned to their home countries.” They also said that Steinhardt could demand compensation from dealers who defrauded him.

Steinhardt, who turns 81 on Tuesday, made his fortune running the hedge fund Steinhardt Partners, which he closed in 1995 to focus on Jewish philanthropy. According to Forbes magazine, his fortune is $ 1.2 billion.

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Vance said the antiques will be returned to their rightful owners in Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Turkey. The law enforcement agencies of these countries provided assistance in the investigation.

According to the 142-page fact sheet, 138 antiques were shipped from Greece, Israel or Italy, with Steinhardt once admitting that most of the items he bought from one dealer were “of no origin.”

Among the antiquities was the forged head of a deer from the 4th century BC. worth 3.5 million dollars, which Steinhardt loaned in 1993 to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The deer head was “found in Western Turkey,” according to undated handwritten notes in Steinhardt’s notes.

“Information from a vendor identifying an unverified antiquity find is often a sign that it was looted,” the fact sheet says.

Vance set up the Antique Trade Bureau in December 2017. At the end of the month, he leaves office after 12 years.

Jonathan Stempel

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