- Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said hedge fund pioneer Michael Steinhardt surrendered 180 stolen antiquities valued at $70 million and was handed a lifetime ban from receiving such items.
- The DA’s office said in a statement that the dedication of the items comes after an investigation began in 2017 into billionaire Steinhardt’s “criminal conduct.”
- Steinhardt served as the chairman of the board of Wisdom Tree Investments for 15 years before retiring in 2019.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said Monday that hedge fund pioneer and philanthropist Michael Steinhardt has surrendered 180 stolen antiquities valued at $70 million and has been banned for life from receiving antiquities.
The DA’s office said in a statement that the dedication of the items comes after an investigation began in 2017 into billionaire Steinhardt’s “criminal conduct.” According to the DA’s office, the agreement ends a grand jury investigation of Steinhardt, meaning he will not be criminally charged.
The office said “the confiscated pieces were looted and illegally smuggled out of 11 countries, smuggled by 12 criminal trafficking networks, and lacked verifiable provenance before being displayed on the international art market.” Was.”
Vance said the settlement with Steinhardt, 80, would return the stolen items to their rightful owners in those countries, rather than as evidence “to complete a grand jury indictment, trial, possible sentencing and sentencing.”
agreement It comes three years after investigators raided Steinhardt’s office and home as part of the Vance investigation., The DA said Steinhart’s agreement to accept a lifetime ban on receiving antiquities was “unprecedented.”
“Even though Steinhardt’s decades of indifference to the rights of the people to their sacred treasures is appalling, the interests of justice before indictment and trial support a proposal that ensures that a substantial proportion of the damage to world cultural heritage Will be undone, once and for all,” Vance said.
Steinhardt founded his company Steinhardt Partners LLP in 1967. He closed the hedge fund in 1995. Steinhardt also served 15 years as chairman of the board. Invested in Wisdom Tree before retiring in 2019.
Steinhardt’s attorneys, Andrew Lavender and Theodore Wells Jr., said in a statement: “Mr. Steinhardt is pleased that the District Attorney’s years-long investigation has concluded without charge, and that others have wrongly claimed Items shipped will be returned to their native countries.”
“Many of the dealers from whom Mr. Steinhardt purchased these items made specific representations to the dealers as to the legitimate title of the items and their alleged origin,” the lawyer said. “As far as these representations are false, Mr. Steinhardt reserves the right to seek reimbursement from the dealers involved.”
The DA’s office said the investigation began when investigators examined a statue of a Lebanese bull’s head, which was stolen during the Lebanese Civil War.
That investigation determined that Steinhardt had purchased that multi-million dollar statue and later loaned it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the office said. That statue was confiscated, as was another marble statue of a calf, also from Lebanon, and which Steinhardt also bought for millions of dollars.
“In the process of uncovering the Lebanese statues, the DA’s office learned that Steinhardt had additional looted antiquities in his apartment and office, and soon after, he had a major stake in the acquisition, possession and sale of more than 1,000 antiquities. The grand jury has launched a criminal investigation since at least 1987, the office said.
As part of this investigation into criminal conduct by Steinhardt, the DA’s office executed 17 judicially-ordered search warrants and conducted joint investigations with law-enforcement officials in 11 countries: Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Israel. , Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Turkey.
Vance said in a statement, “For decades, Michael Steinhardt has held a nod for looted artifacts without concern for the legitimacy of his works, the legitimacy of the pieces he bought and sold, or the serious cultural harm he caused around the world.” displayed intense hunger.”
Vance said, “There were no geographic or moral limits in their search for ‘new’ additions to display and sell, as reflected in the vast underworld of antiques smugglers, crime lords, money launderers and tomb raiders, whom he relied on to expand his collection.”
In 2019, The New York Times reported that six women had accused Steinhardt of sexual assault. He denied the allegations.
The Times report, which also cited a lawsuit filed by another woman, said that when the women sought support from the philanthropist he made sexual requests. The Times also reported that Steinhart appeared in two sexual assault lawsuits, but was not named as a defendant in either case.
The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life called the Times report “deliberately defamatory”.
But in a statement, the foundation also said that Steinhardt’s “sense of humor may be insensitive, and he apologized for the unintended bad feelings his comments caused.” The website includes a statement from the billionaire, who denies trying to touch anyone inappropriately.
Vance’s office details several items surrendered by Steinhardt.