Artnet reports that, according to US court documents, Kardashian brought the piece of limestone, titled ‘Fragment of Myron’s Samian Athena’, in 2016 from the Axel Vervoordt Gallery in Belgium. This was the same year that she and her husband, Kanye West, were renovating their home in Calabasas, California.
The sculpture, which is said to date back to the 1st or 2nd century, was seized by authorities when it arrived in Los Angeles in May 2016 as it was believed to have been illegally smuggled out of Italy and that it might be a protected piece of cultural property.
The United States has attempted to cut down on the pillaging of cultural property and has imposed a restriction on imports of archaeological material originating from Italy. Those wishing to import goods of such nature to the US from Italy now need clear documentation which shows that the item is not in violation of any laws.
A civil forfeiture action issued by a district court on 30th April named Kardashian and as a consignee and importer of the artefact. A spokesperson for Kardashian has stated that the star had no involvement with the smuggling and was previously unaware of the statue.
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In a statement given to the Daily Mail, Kardashian’s spokesperson said: “Kim never purchased this piece and this is the first that she has learned of its existence.
“We believe it may have been purchased using her name without authorization and because it was never received, she was unaware of the transaction. We encourage an investigation and hope that it gets returned to the rightful owners.”
In 2018, Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage sent an archaeologist to examine the statue and concluded that it had been ‘looted, smuggled, and illegally exported from Italy.’
According to Artnet, Vervoordt, who designed Kardashian’s home, had the piece on loan from Galerie Chenel in Paris before purchasing it in 2012. Ollivier Chenel, the director of Galerie Chenel, states that they purchased it during an auction in 2010 in Germany and that it had previously come from an English estate.
Chenel is quoted as saying: “It is very strange that [the complaint does not mention] the German auction house as the information was given to them at the time. I can guarantee you that this sculpture was acquired legally at Hampel Auction house in 2010.”