US/World News

Prosecutors seize ancient art from philanthropist Michael Steinhardt

(JTA) – Several pieces of ancient art were seized from the office and home of billionaire philanthropist Michael Steinhardt. The art, worth a total of more than $1 million, are believed by prosecutors to have been looted from Greece and Italy, the New York Times reported Friday, Jan. 5. Steinhardt, co-founder of the Birthright program and a major donor to Jewish and Israel causes, is an avid and long-time collector of art from ancient Greece. The raids are part of a push by New York district attorney Cyrus Vance to return stolen antiquities found in New York City to their countries of origin. In recent months Vance has overseen the return of three ancient statues to Lebanon, a mosaic from one of Caligula’s ships to Italy, and a second-century Buddhist sculpture to Pakistan, according to the Times. The ancient pieces were all bought in the last 12 years for a total cost of $1.1 million, according to the warrants. Steinhardt could face charges of possession of stolen property, according to the newspaper. He declined to comment “for now,” he told the Times. In October, a piece discovered in Steinhardt’s apartment – a sixth-century B.C. marble torso of a man carrying a calf, worth about $4.5 million – was returned to Lebanon where it had been stolen from the Temple of Eshmun in Sidon. The torso had been purchased from collectors in Colorado who had purchased them from an antiquities dealer in London.

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