The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports welcomed in an announcement the outcome of a long-standing case, which was investigated by the Manhattan Public Prosecutor’s Office in New York and has resulted in the return of 47 ancient artifacts to Greece, as reported by the Greek City Times
It was documented that among the thousands of objects of different cultures in the Collection of Michael Steinhardt, one of the biggest collectors of works of art in the world, 180 objects were products of illegal trafficking and export from their countries of origin.
The ancient items that will be returned originally came from Central Greece, Crete, the Cyclades islands of Paros and Naxos, as well as Samos and Rhodes.
Items that stand out include a Minoan larnax dated to 1400-1200 BC and valued at US$1million, a $14 million torso of a Kouros statue dated to 560 BC, as well as a bronze griffin protome, Cycladic vessels, figurines and bronze swords.
Investigators discovered that Steinhardt, one of the world’s largest ancient art collectors, was in possession of looted artifacts smuggled out of 11 countries by 12 criminal networks, according to a statement from the Manhattan District Attorney’s (DA) office on Monday.
“I thank the competent American authorities, their executives, and especially Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan Matthew Bogdanos, as well as the competent executives of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, who assisted in the project of documenting and recovering the antiquities illegally exported from Greece, which were included in the Steinhardt Collection. I especially thank the Directorate for Documentation and Protection of Cultural Property of the Ministry of Culture, which fights daily and incessantly against the illegal trafficking of our country’s cultural treasures, a goal that is our consistently high political priority,” noted Minister of Culture and Sports Mendoni.
According to the announcement of the ministry, the ancient items and artifacts that were documented and will return to Greece in the near future come from Central Greece, Crete, the Cyclades (Paros, Naxos), Samos, and Rhodes.