Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced Thursday the return of the marble artifact “Veiled Head of a Female”, dating back to 350 BC and valued at about $1.2 million to the people of Libya.
The District Attorney's office said a multinational investigation was completed in December, involving one of the world's largest collectors of ancient art, Michael Steinhardt, seizing 180 stolen artifacts worth $70 million dollars, including this piece.
The first artifact in the Steinhardt collection to be returned to its country of origin
This artifact is the first in that group to be returned to its country of origin and a ceremony was held for its departure to Libya, in the presence of the Chargé d'Affairs of the Libyan Embassy in Washington Khaled Dhaif and US Homeland Security Investigations representative, Erik Rosenblatt.
“I am honored to return this cultural treasure to the Libyan people, after it was looted from an ancient tomb during a period of turmoil and I look forward to returning what remains of the massive Steinhardt Collection to 11 different countries to which we rightly owe,” said Bragg.
Norland: A victory for Libya and the rule of law
Dhaif expressed his gratitude for the efforts of the Bragg's office, commenting: “We would like to express our sincere appreciation and gratitude for the efforts of the New York District Attorney, his staff, the Department of Homeland Security, and everyone who worked to ensure the return of this Libyan artifact.”
For his part, US ambassador Richard Norland praised Bragg and Homeland Security, adding: "This is a victory for Libya, as well as law enforcement and the rule of law.”
He affirmed his country's commitment to protecting Libya's rich and diverse cultural heritage, which represents the country's history and common identity.