The Masked Dealer: The Future of U.S. Billionaire Michael Steinhardt’s Looted Artifacts at Israel Museum

The museum must now decide what to do with the stolen artifacts and whether to leave the name of the person who ‘displayed a rapacious appetite for plundered artifacts’ on its prominent list of donors around the building. 'The museum’s role is not to sweep the story under the carpet'

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One of the masks loaned by Michael Steinhardt to the Israel Museum.
One of the masks loaned by Michael Steinhardt to the Israel Museum.
Naama Riba
Naama Riba

At the entrance to the Israel Museum, a large glass plaque denotes the names of donors who helped fund the extensive renovations before the building reopened in 2010. Prominent among these are the names Judy and Michael Steinhardt – names that appear in other locations as well.

Here’s the thing: the “Steinhardt” name has been making headlines recently under less auspicious circumstances. Following an international investigation that lasted some four years, Michael Steinhardt surrendered 180 stolen antiquities worth an estimated $70 million as part of a deal with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to avoid prosecution. These items were plundered from 11 countries, including Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Syria and Israel.

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