Billionaire investor Michael Steinhardt is losing his $70 million art collection. The hedge fund manager had 180 artifacts seized by the federal government after a grand jury investigation discovered that he obtained them through looting and illegal smuggling.

The 81-year-old’s passion for ill-gotten art became the subject of a 2017 investigation that last for 5 years. The multi-national investigation included the Antiques Trafficking Unit and 11 countries from which the objects were originally stolen.

“For decades, Michael Steinhardt displayed a rapacious appetite for plundered artifacts without concern for the legality of his actions, the legitimacy of the pieces he bought and sold, or the grievous cultural damage he wrought across the globe,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. in the statement.

The $70 million collection included stolen treasures from Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, and Turkey. Among the items was the Stag’s Head Rhyton, a drinking container from 400 B.C. worth $3.5 million. He also possessed three stone death masks believed to have been created around 6000 to 7000 B.C.E, worth a combined $650,000.

Steinhardt forfeited his art collection to avoid a litany of charges. He has also been slapped with an unprecedented lifetime ban on acquiring cultural antiquities.

RELATED: World’s Most Expensive Art Fakes: From A $2 Million Picasso Knockoff To The Saudi Royal Family’s $450 Million Da Vinci Fake

“His pursuit of ‘new’ additions to showcase and sell knew no geographic or moral boundaries, as reflected in the sprawling underworld of antiquities traffickers, crime bosses, money launderers, and tomb raiders he relied upon to expand his collection.”

He agreed to return all 180 seized artifacts to their rightful owners, according to a statement released by attorneys. Both sides agreed that a plea was a quicker resolution than a lengthy trial, according to CNN.

“Steinhardt viewed these precious artifacts as simple commodities — things to collect and own. He failed to respect that these treasures represent the heritage of cultures around the world from which these items were looted, often during times of strife and unrest,” HIS New York Acting Special Agent in Charge Ricky Patel said on the matter.

Steinhardt was born in New York where he founded the hedge fund Steinhardt Partners in 1967. A January 2014 article by Bloomberg referred to him as “Wall Street’s greatest trader.” Forbes Magazine reported his net worth at $1.1 billion as of October 2018.

READ NEXT: Billionaire Harry Macklowe And Wife Linda Auction Their $676 Million Art Collection Post Divorce

Sources: CNN, Bloomberg

Source: Read Full Article