7 december 2021



Michael Steinhardt, retired hedge fund manager, must relinquish $70 million in antiquities, after a three-year grand jury probe found the antiquities were stolen. Steinhardt’s one hundred eighty antiquities were surrendered to the New York District Attorney’s office. The District Attorney’s office will return to them to the countries from which they were illegally smuggled.

None of Steinhardt’s antiquities had a verifiable provenances. They came from twelve smuggling networks, which stole them from eleven nations.

Since 1987, Steinhardt traded over 1,000 antiquities. The object that first got the District Attorney’s attention was Steinhardt’s purchase of a statue of a bull’s head, which was looted from Lebanon.

Among Steinhardt’s other stolen antiquities was a rhyton (ancient Greek drinking or pouring vessel) similar to the one below, valued at $3.5 million.

Ancient Greek Rhyton (ca. 460 B.C.)

Steinhardt’s illicit collection also included ancient stone death masks from about 6500 B.C. and an ancient Greek coffin—a Larnax--dating from circa 1300 B.C.

The District Attorney’s office has banned him from buying or selling antiquities for the rest of his life. Steinhardt is eighty-one years old.

The Special Agent in charge of the investigation said, “Steinhardt viewed these precious artifacts as simple commodities—things to collect and own. He failed to respect that these treasures represent the heritage of cultures around the world from which these items were looted, often during times of strife and unrest.”

Steinhardt was called “Wall Street’s Greatest Trader” by Forbes and is said to be worth $1.1 billion. He funded New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.