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Hedge Fund Billionaire Surrenders 180 Stolen Art Pieces

Credit: Unsplash

I’ve always assumed that, once you reach a particular threshold of wealth, you just start wasting your money on pointless things because you have nothing else to do with it. Some rich people like to collect art and antiques, for example, either because they are a genuine patron of the arts and are moved by them, or they just want to possess tangible proof of their own overwhelming wealth. But while there’s nothing inherently wrong with owning art, it is kind of a huge problem to own a bunch of stolen art.

Yesterday, Michael Steinhardt, a billionaire hedge fund pioneer and philanthropist, was forced to surrender 180 pieces of art and antiquities that were confirmed to have been stolen over the years. The total value of the stolen art is roughly $70 million USD.

“The seized pieces were looted and illegally smuggled out of 11 countries, trafficked by 12 criminal smuggling networks, and lacked verifiable provenance prior to appearing on the international art market, according to the Statement of Facts summarizing the investigation,” the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said Monday.

The art was surrendered as part of an agreement between the DA and Steinhardt. While Steinhardt will not face charges for possessing the art, as he himself did not steal it, he has been slapped with a lifetime ban on ever collecting any registered pieces of art or antiques from before the year 1500 A.D. ever again.

“Even though Steinhardt’s decades-long indifference to the rights of peoples to their own sacred treasures is appalling, the interests of justice prior to indictment and trial favor a resolution that ensures that a substantial portion of the damage to world cultural heritage will be undone, once and for all,” Vance said.

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