Kim Kardashian has been accused of purchasing an ancient Roman statue that was illegally exported from Italy. However, the reality TV star insists she has no knowledge of the transaction.
According to documents filed in California court last Friday, the piece in question is a limestone sculpture that dates back to the 1st or 2nd century AD. CNN reports federal authorities seized the statue at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport in 2016, due to insufficient documentation about its origins. Officials later determined the piece was “looted, smuggled, and illegally exported” in a shipment contained 40 items—described as antiques, furniture, and decorative objects—valued at around $745,000. The customs form didn’t mention any archeological finds.
In February 2018, an archaeologist from Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage conducted an analysis of the defendant statue. The archaeologist stated that the defendant statue is of classical Peplophoros style (early to mid-Roman Empire), which represents a copy of an original Greek sculpture …
Kardashian’s trust was reportedly listed as the importer, but a spokesperson for the multi-hyphenate denied the allegations, claiming Kardashian never bought the statue and that “this is the first that she has learned of its existence.”
“We believe that it may have been purchased using her name without authorization and because it was never received (and) she was unaware of the transaction,” the spokesperson told CNN. “We encourage an investigation and hope that it gets returned to the rightful owners.”
Court documents also listed Axel Vervoordt as one of the item’s shippers. Vervoordt is a well-known art dealer and interior decorator who has previously worked with Kardashian and her estranged husband, Kanye West. Italian authorities say they believe Vervoordt was in possession of the sculpture as far back as 2011, one year before he allegedly bought it. Officials point to a photograph taken at the European Fine Art Fair in 2011; the picture shows the artifact displayed at the annual art fair at Vervoordt’s booth.
A spokesperson for Vervoordt told CNN he and his team were “informed only yesterday that the US government has filed for forfeiture” of the sculpture. The representative added “there is no evidence that this piece was illegally imported from Italy. Our client, as well as our gallery and the gallery from whom we’ve bought the piece have always acted in good faith when dealing with the work.”
Italian officials are asking for the item to be returned as “in accordance with the bilateral agreement between Italy and the United States.”