Kim Kardashian has been told she must forfeit ownership of an ancient Roman statue, after officials confirmed it had been looted and illegally exported from Italy.
The statue was seized by customs officials upon its arrival into the US more than five years after Customs and Border Protection officers became concerned that the piece was ‘possibly protected cultural property from Italy.’
The statue was part of a shipment seized at the Port of Los Angeles of around 40 objects, with a total estimated value of $745,882.
Further investigations by Italian and US federal authorities dated the statue back to 1st–2nd century A.D. According to archeologists, it’s actually a replica of an ancient Greek sculpture, called ‘Fragment of Myron’s Samian Athena,’ with experts in 2018 concluding that the statue was in the ‘classical Peplophoros style’ and ‘showed signs’ of having been present in Italy during the time of the ancient Roman Empire.
As impressive as ancient Roman statues are, there’s a good reason why you can’t just ship them over to display in your home – even if you are a multimillionaire living in a house that many have described as looking more like a museum.
According to rules set out by UNESCO – the UN body that works to protect international cultural heritage – any object of ‘historical or cultural importance’ discovered after 1970 can’t be exported without specific permission from its country of origin.
With no records of Fragment of Myron’s Athena ever having been legally exported, US federal officials concluded in a court filing seen by NBC that ‘based on the information and scientific aspects the archaeologist provided, the archaeologist opined that the defendant statue was looted, smuggled and illegally exported from Italy.’
There’s no suggestion Kim had any idea of the statue’s true origins. And in a twist, despite being named as the importer and owner of the statue, a Kardashian spokesperson denied that she had any knowledge of the object, telling the MailOnline ‘Kim never purchased this piece and this is the first that she has learned of its existence.’ Even so, she’s been ordered to surrender ownership, with the Italian Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage asking for the statue to be returned to its home country.
Statements from officials claim that the statue was actually first smuggled out of the country long ago, passing through England, Germany, France and Belgium before being apparently acquired by Axel Vervoordt, an art dealer and interior designer who worked on the Kardashian-West’s home, in 2012.
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