Federal prosecutors are seeking the confiscation of an ancient Roman sculpture that was on its way to Kim Kardashian when it was seized in the Port of Los Angeles five years ago.
Italian authorities believe that the sculpture, described as “Fragment of Samian Athena from Myron, limestone, Roman, 1st – 2nd century AD”, was originally looted from Italy, and they want it returned, according to a civil forfeiture complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles last week.
The case dates back to 2016, when the ancient statue arrived at the Port of Los Angeles and immediately caught the attention of U.S. customs and border protection officials.
The broker provided CBP with a form indicating the consignee, or buyer, and importer as “Kim Kardashian dba Noel Roberts Trust”. The shipment, described as containing antiques, furniture and decorations, contained 40 pieces in all valued at $ 745,882, the record says.
The case documents do not allege any wrongdoing on Kardashian’s part, and there is no claim that she was aware of possible issues with the statue. Representatives for Kardashian did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday night.
The United States and Italy have an agreement to end the trafficking of looted cultural property that requires documents for imports.
When the shipment arrived, customs officials feared it was “potentially protected cultural property from Italy,” according to the filing.
During their investigation, authorities found inconsistencies between documents indicating that the statue was from Italy and an unsworn affidavit indicating that the statue was not from there, according to the court file.
A month later, they seized the statue after the broker failed to prove sufficient documentation to U.S. authorities, according to the court record.
Italian carabinieri for the protection of cultural heritage told Homeland Security Investigations in 2016, and they want the statue returned, the document says.
The U.S. government said on file that an Italian archaeologist concluded in 2018 that the piece showed signs of having been in Italy during the Roman Empire, and there is no record of its legal export as the requires a law of 1909.
“On the basis of the information and scientific aspects provided by the archaeologist, the archaeologist estimated that the statue of the accused had been looted, smuggled and illegally exported from Italy,” he said.
The Italian archaeologist has determined that the statue is “classical Peplophoros style,” which represents a copy of an original Greek sculpture, the file says.