Greece recovers stolen antiquities
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Greece has recovered more than 50 antiquities, most of them seized from the collection of a billionaire US art collector and philanthropist, the culture ministry said Friday.
Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, who attended a handover ceremony in New York on Wednesday, said in a statement that 47 items came from the collection of philanthropist Michael Steinhardt.
"This is a day of great happiness for Greece," she said, adding that the restitution sent a "resounding message...that sooner or later, illegal transactions will be uncovered."
Another eight items came from illegal digs in the central Greek region of Thessaly, the ministry said.
US Justice Department officials in December said that Steinhardt had returned 180 works of art and antiquities stolen from around the world that are estimated to be worth $70 million ($62 million).
The move allowed the 80-year-old to avoid indictment and trial for the time being, but bans him for life from acquiring antiques on the legal art market.
"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," then Manhattan attorney general Cyrus Vance said in December after a years-long investigation.
Vance said the New York financier, estimated by Forbes to be worth $1.2 billion, "knew no geographic or moral boundaries, as reflected in the sprawling underworld of antiquities traffickers, crime bosses, money launderers, and tomb raiders he relied upon to expand his collection."
The New York district attorney's office has returned more than 70 antiquities to 14 countries since August 2020, including almost 30 relics to Cambodia, 100 artifacts to Pakistan, and almost 250 items to India.