Antiquities Seized From Billionaire Michael Steinhardt Repatriated to Italy

Pieces seized from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and collector Michael Steinhardt were among 60 artifacts returned to Italy.

Michael Steinhardt speaks onstage at the Champions of Jewish Values
Michael Steinhardt received a lifetime ban on antiquity collecting. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Italy’s Ministry of Culture exhibited 60 repatriated antiquities recently returned by U.S. authorities at a press conference in Rome this week.

Reportedly valued at $20 million, the works included 21 allegedly looted pieces which were seized from the Metropolitan Museum of Art by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office last year. The artifacts included a marble head circa 200 B.C., valued at $3 million, and a drinking cup from the fifth century B.C., valued at $1.5 million.

A majority of the items were taken from the collection of Michael Steinhardt, a hedge fund manager and former antiquities collector with a net worth of $1.2 billion.

Questions about Steinhart’s vast antiquity collection first arose in 1997, when he was ordered by a U.S. federal judge to return a $1 million gold platter to Italy.

In Dec. 2021, Steinhardt, a former trustee of New York University, surrendered 180 antiquities, looted from 11 countries and valued at $70 million, to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office after a four-year investigation. While Steinhardt wasn’t charged with a crime, he agreed to a lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.

“For decades, Michael Steinhardt displayed a rapacious appetite for plundered artifacts 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,” said Cy Vance, the District Attorney at the time, in a statement.

Antiquities from Steinhardt’s collection have since been repatriated to Turkey, Iraq, Bulgaria, Palestine, Egypt and Greece.

Update:┬áThis article has been updated to clarify the terms of Steinhardt’s lifetime ban.

Antiquities Seized From Billionaire Michael Steinhardt Repatriated to Italy