Reality TV star Kim Kardashian found her name crop up in an unlikely international art smuggling row involving an ancient Roman sculpture imported to California under her name. The star has denied any knowledge of an ancient statue which was part of a $750,000 shipment in her name that was confiscated by customs authorities at a Los Angeles port in 2016 because the sculpture was ‘looted, smuggled and illegally exported from Italy’, the Daily Mail reported on May 4.
Italian officials believe the sculpture, described as “Fragment of Myron’s Samian Athena, Limestone, Roman, 1st – 2nd century AD,” was originally looted from Italy, and they want it returned, according to a civil complaint for forfeiture filed in federal court in Los Angeles last week. The sculpture, an ancient Roman limestone statue was allegedly brought to Los Angeles in 2016 when Kardashian and her ex-husband Kanye West were renovating their Calabasas residence, but it was confiscated by customs agents. Kardashian reportedly bought it from the Axel Vervoordt Gallery in Belgium, Artnet reports.
What is the Fragment of Myron Samian Athena?
The statue called the “Fragment of Myron’s Samian Athena, Limestone, Roman, 1st – 2nd century AD,” representing a person’s lower half, is believed to date from the early to mid-Roman Empire. The statue was described as “of classical Peplophoros style which represents a copy of an original Greek sculpture” by the Italian archaeologist who examined it. Samia was an Ancient Greek city located in the Elis region in western Peloponnese.
Although the sculpture has not yet been identified, a picture of the statue released by the Department of Justice bears a strong resemblance to an original sculpture which Myron may have made of Eleutherae, an Athenian sculptor from the mid-5th century BC. While none of his original sculptures is known to have survived, many are thought to be later marble copies, mainly Roman.
The Greek travel writer Pausanias (2nd-century CE) noted a group of Athena in the act of striking (or advancing upon) the satyr Marsyas. This group—which includes naked Marsyas marching toward her and Athena moving away with a trailing left arm reaching for the flutes—has been reconstructed from versions of the characters that were known from depictions of the scene on later works.
The parcel, which contained a stone sculpture of the lower half of a human figure wearing a dress, was described in the packaging as “40 pieces of ‘Antiques & Modern Furniture & Decorations Objects’ with a gross weight of [5 tons] and valued at $745,882.”
Kim Kardashian has denied knowing about an Ancient Roman statue which was part of a $750,000 shipment in her name that was seized by customs officials in 2016 because the sculpture was ‘looted, smuggled and illegally exported from Italy’.