Kim Kardashian denies purchasing looted ancient Roman statue

By Alma Fabiani

Published May 9, 2021 at 09:30 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

At the beginning of the week, reality star Kim Kardashian was named in court filings alleging she was involved in importing an ancient Roman statue that US officials say was stolen from Italy. Court documents filed in California said the US government has sought the forfeiture of a “looted, smuggled and illegally exported” antique that it believes was being delivered to the star.

Of course, a spokesperson for Kardashian said she “never purchased this piece” and that “this is the first that she has learned of its existence,” adding, “We believe that it may have been purchased using her name without authorisation and because it was never received (and) she was unaware of the transaction.”

Kim Kardashian denies purchasing looted ancient Roman statue

Italian officials think the sculpture, described as “Fragment of Myron’s Samian Athena, Limestone, Roman, 1st to 2nd century A.D.,” was originally looted from Italy, and they want it returned. The case actually dates to 2016, when the antique statue arrived at the Port of Los Angeles and immediately caught the attention of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials.

According to NBC News, the broker provided a form to the CBP that listed the consignee, or buyer, and importer as “Kim Kardashian dba Noel Roberts Trust.” The shipment, described as containing antiques, furniture and decorations, had 40 pieces in all valued at $745,882.

In 2018, an Italian archaeologist concluded that the piece showed signs of having been in Italy during the Roman Empire, and there are no records of its being legally exported as required under a 1909 law. “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,” said the filing.

As authorities investigated, they found contradictions between documents that indicated that the statue originated from Italy and an unsworn affidavit stating that it did not originate there. A month later, they seized the statue after the broker did not prove sufficient documentation to American authorities, according to the court filing.

Court papers allege that invoices for the item, submitted by a customs broker, appear to describe two different statues—one originating from Germany and another from Italy. One invoice, dating to when Alex Vervoordt, who has worked with Kardashian and her estranged husband Kanye West on several of their properties, allegedly purchased the statue from a Paris gallery in 2012, describes it as a “large draped statue” from an “Old German collection.”

A second, from when Vervoordt purportedly sold the statue to the Noel Roberts Trust describes it as being only a “fragment” of a statue, with handwritten notes suggesting that it originated from Italy. Italian officials have also alleged that Vervoordt was in possession of the artifact in 2011—the year before he supposedly bought it. Court documents include a photograph of a sculpture taken at Vervoordt’s booth at an art fair in 2011, that the aforementioned archaeologist claims to be the statue in question.

Whether Kardashian knew about the statue beforehand remains unclear, but her and West’s Hidden Hills mansion has been compared to a museum… As the US government tries to legally seize the ancient Roman statue, it definitely doesn’t look like the reality star will show any signs of resistance.

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