NEW YORK — Billionaire hedge fund pioneer Michael Steinhardt has surrendered 180 stolen antiquities valued at $70 million and was given a first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities, the New York District Attorney’s office announced in a statement. The agreement was the result of a four-year investigation that found the 180 stolen items had been taken illegally from 11 countries.
Among the items surrendered is “The Larnax”, a small chest from Greece valued at $1 million. Steinhardt allegedly pointed to the piece while complaining about a subpoena requesting documentation for another antiquity saying, “You see this piece? There’s no provenance for it. If I see a piece and I like it, then I buy it.”
The 180 pieces will be returned to their rightful owners in 11 countries: Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Turkey, ABC News reported.
Steinhardt, who allegedly paid more than $26 million for the relics, told investigators that he did not commit any crimes and that the dealers who sold him the pieces said they had the legal right to sell the objects, CNBC reported.
No charges have been filed against Mr. Steinhardt. The New York Times reported that the district attorney made the agreement to allow the items to be returned to their owners rather than be held as evidence during a trial. This move also helps shield the identity of witnesses.
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