Kim Kardashian named in ‘looted’ Roman statue forfeiture claim

Reality TV star named in US court papers over relic bought in her name and sought by Italian authorities

The US government has named Kim Kardashian in a civil forfeiture claim for an ancient Roman statue seized at Los Angeles port in June 2016 that Italian officials think was originally looted from Italy.

According to the court documents, the statue, known as Fragment of Myron’s Samian Athena, was bought by Kardashian from a Belgian art dealer. It has been assessed to be an early to mid-Roman empire copy of a statue in the ancient Greek style.

The forfeiture claim, filed in a federal court in Los Angeles last week, says the statue was seized by customs officials after the import broker failed to provide sufficient documentation about its origins.

The statue was part of a shipment containing 40 objects valued at a total of $745,882 (about £536,000), described as antiques, furniture and decorations rather than archaeological finds. However, an Italian archaeologist who analysed the work in February 2018 concluded that it showed signs of having been from the Roman empire. There are no records of it being legally exported from Italy.

An image of the statue in question - known as Fragment of Myron’s Samian Athena
An image of the statue in question - known as Fragment of Myron’s Samian Athena Photograph: Italian ministry of cultural heritage

“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,” says the claim, which was filed in response to an Italian request for the statue’s repatriation.

The US restricts the import of archaeological material from Italy in an attempt to discourage the looting and plundering of artefacts.

Kardashian, 40, is not accused of any wrongdoing in the documents, and there are no suggestions she knew there might be a problem with the purchase.

A spokesperson for Kardashian told she had no idea that the statue had been imported in her name. “Kim never purchased this piece and this is the first that she has learned of its existence,” the spokesperson said.


Martin Belam

The GuardianTramp

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