20 million dollars worth of stolen cultural treasures returned to Greece

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Several trafficked antiquities seized from billionaire hedge fund founder, Michael Steinhardt, have been returned to Greece after a year-long investigation into the acquisition of his art collection. 

At a handover ceremony on February 23, the Greek Culture Minister, Dr Lina Mendoni, thanked federal investigators and the office’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit, led by Assistant District Attorney Mathew Bogdanos, for working with Greek officials to identify items. 

“The illegal trafficking of our country’s cultural treasures is a serious trauma that hurts all Greeks all over the world,” she said. “We work systematically to stop this crime.”

Amongst the artefacts is a sculpture of a young man from approximately 560 BC, known as a Kouros. This piece alone is worth roughly 14 million dollars, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg told local media. 

The district attorney’s office accused Steinhardt of relying on a “sprawling underworld of antiquities traffickers, crime bosses, money launderers and tomb raiders” to build his collection. 

The deal to return all the pieces was announced in December last year, with Steinhardt told to surrender 70 million dollars worth of artefacts acquired illegally from not only Greece, but from countries like Egypt, Israel, Syria, and Turkey.

According to this agreement, Steinhardt will not face any criminal charges but is subject to an unprecedented lifetime ban on acquiring any other antiquities. 

A spokesperson for the district attorney said a total of 55 artifacts worth over 20 million dollars have been sent back to Greece, where they will be handed to regional museums depending on where they were originally from. 

Sources: Greece IsNew York Times

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