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Avoiding prosecution, Michael Steinhardt to return $70 million in looted antiquities

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JTA — Michael Steinhardt, the hedge funder and megadonor to Jewish causes, has agreed to surrender 180 stolen antiquities worth $70 million to their rightful homelands and to never again collect ancient artifacts.

In return, Steinhardt, a philanthropist who is chair of the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life and co-founder of Birthright Israel, an organization that sends young Jews on free trips to Israel, will not face criminal charges for acquiring more than 1,000 pieces that were illegally smuggled out of 11 countries including Egypt, Greece, Israel, Syria and Turkey, prosecutors said.

Those are the terms of a deal that Steinhardt finalized Monday with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, whose office began investigating several years ago over a Lebanese statue that Steinhardt loaned to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That statue, they concluded, was illegally taken from Lebanon — making it like countless other objects that Steinhardt had amassed over the years, largely from Middle Eastern countries.

Steinhardt’s lawyers and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance issued separate statements Monday, CNBC reported, with vastly different takes on intent: Steinhardt said he bought the items in good faith, but Vance was not buying it.

“For decades, Michael Steinhardt displayed a rapacious appetite........

© The Times of Israel

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