The Antiquities Coalition Commends Manhattan District Attorney For Seizure Of Looted Artwork
January 9, 2018
WASHINGTON, DC, January 09, 2018 — The Antiquities Coalition commends Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. for the January 5 seizure of a number of Classical masterpieces from the private collection of hedge fund billionaire Michael H. Steinhardt. Search warrants allege the antiquities are the stolen property of Greece and Italy. We applaud the ongoing efforts by Mr. Vance and his team to clean up the New York art market, one of the largest unregulated markets in the world, by sending a strong signal that collectors, auction houses, and museums will be held accountable for engaging in the illicit trade.
Mr. Steinhardt is a long-time collector of ancient antiquities, who has previously—and repeatedly—faced scandals and litigation for the buying and selling of looted artworks. The pieces seized last Friday include a fifth century B.C. Greek lekythos, an oil vessel, valued at $380,000; seventh century B.C. Proto-Corinthian figures of an owl and duck valued at $250,000; an Apulian terra-cota flask in the shape of an African head; a fifth century attic aryballow (a vessel for oil or perfume); and an Ionian sculpture of a ram’s head from the six century. The search warrants estimated their overall value at approximately $1.1 million.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office recently launched a counter antiquities trafficking unit, a groundbreaking and welcome step, since the Federal Bureau of Investigations has warned it has “credible evidence” that Daesh (ISIS) looted antiquities are reaching the U.S. market. The new unit is headed by Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos, a Marine Colonel, who led the U.S. government’s efforts to recover priceless antiquities stolen from the Iraqi National Museum in 2003. We hope that other major markets in the United States will follow New York’s leadership by setting up similar task forces to tackle cultural racketeering, given its documented links to terrorism, transnational organized crime, and money laundering.
About the Antiquities Coalition
The Antiquities Coalition unites a diverse group of experts in the fight against cultural racketeering: the illicit trade in antiquities by organized criminals and terrorist organizations. This plunder for profit funds crime and conflict around the world—erasing our past and threatening our future. The Coalition’s innovative and practical solutions tackle crimes against heritage head on, empowering communities and countries in crisis. Learn more at theantiquitiescoalition.org.