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Ancient Artwork Seized from Prominent NY Philanthropist’s Home

January 9, 2018 | In the Press

From The Jewish Voice (http://thejewishvoice.com/2018/01/09/ancient-artwork-seized-prominent-ny-philanthropists-home/)

Authorities seized a million dollars’ worth of ancient art from well-known New York billionaire and philanthropist Michael Steinhardt, according to prosecutors.

The seized art is believed to have been looted from Greece and Italy, the NY Times reported.  Steinhardt, co-founder of the Birthright program and a major donor to Jewish and Israel causes, is an avid and long-time collector of art from ancient Greece.

New York DA Cyrus Vance, known for his work of returning stolen antiquities found in New York City to their countries of origin, led this seizure with authorities.  Recently Vance oversaw the return of three ancient statues to Lebanon and a mosaic from one of Caligula’s ships to Italy.

Among the artifacts seized from Steinhardt’s home and office were: a Greek oil vessel from the fifth century BC, a terra-cotta flask in the shape of an African head from the fourth century BC, a vessel for oil or perfume, from the early fifth century and a Proto-Corinthian figure from the seventh century B.C., depicting an owl and a duck.

Steinhardt could face charges of possession of stolen property, according to the Times.  In October–  a sixth-century B.C. marble torso of a man carrying a calf, worth about $4.5 million, was returned to Lebanon after it was recovered from Steinhardt’s home. No charges were pressed as he had purchased the ancient artifact from an antiquities dealer from London.

Steinhardt’s vast experience in art collecting has earned him a gallery named after him and his wife at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Steinhardt has made his success from hedge fund management and is very well known for his generous philanthropy towards Jewish causes. His biggest impact has come from Birthright Israel or Birthright, a nonprofit educational organization that sponsors free ten-day heritage trips to Israel for young adults of Jewish heritage, aged 18–32. During their trip, participants, most of whom are visiting Israel for the first time, are encouraged to discover new meaning in their personal Jewish identity and connection to Jewish history and culture, according to the Birthright website.  20,000 young adults participate in the Birthright program each year and has generated $2 billion NIS to the Israeli economy since its inception.

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