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US billionaire hands over antiquities worth $70m

BBC News logo BBC News 12/7/2021
© Reuters

A US billionaire has been banned for life from buying antiquities following an investigation by New York prosecutors.

Michael Steinhardt has surrendered stolen treasures worth $70m (£53m) as part of a deal which means he will not face criminal charges.

The ban on the hedge-fund pioneer acquiring more antiquities is the first of its kind, prosecutors said.

Many of the antiquities appeared to be without provenance, they said.


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Among the 180 items Mr Steinhardt has handed over are the Stag's Head Rhyton, a drinking vessel dating from 400BC worth $3.5m.

The Larnax, a Cretan chest for human remains, has also been surrendered.

The 3,000-year-old item was bought from a known trafficker in 2016, prosecutors allege.

Announcing the surrendering of the antiquities, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr said that Mr Steinhardt "displayed a rapacious appetite for plundered artefacts without concern for the legality of his actions, the legitimacy of the pieces he bought and sold, or the grievous cultural damage he wrought across the globe".

Mr Steinhardt's lawyers said he was pleased the investigation had ended and that "items wrongfully taken by others will be returned to their native countries".

They added that the investor might seek compensation from dealers who had misled him as to the provenance of the items he bought.

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