Kim Kardashian has denied knowing an Ancient Roman statue was part of a $750,000 (£540,000) shipment in her name which was seized by customs in 2016.
The shipment was in the name of the reality star, 40, and was seized because the sculpture was ‘looted, smuggled and illegally exported from Italy’.
The limestone statue, which dates back to the first century, is called Fragment of Myron Samian Athena and depicts the lower half of a woman from the waist down.
The sculpture was imported to Los Angeles in Kardashian’s name in 2016 during the renovation of her and Kanye West’s home, but she has denied having any knowledge of the piece prior to it being seized, with the US government filing a civil forfeiture claim in an LA court last week.
Belgian interior designer and antiques and art dealer Axel Vervoordt, who was overseeing the design of Kimye’s home is also named in court documents alongside Kardashian.
Kardashian’s spokesperson told the Daily Mail: ‘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 authorisation 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.’
According to court documents, which name several people and businesses being involved, Vervoordt bought a statue in November 2012 from Paris’s Galerie Chenel, which specialises in Roman antiquities.
The sculpture was labelled as part of an ‘Old German Collection, bought before 1980,’ but its value is unknown.
The 5.5 ton shipment in Kardashian’s name comprised of 40 antiques, modern furniture and decorative objects which came to a total value of $745,882 (£537,000).
It is claimed that customs agents were provided a receipt for the purchase from Galerie Chenel when they inspected the shipment, but US government officials allege that the statue is not the one bought in 2012 but another which had been obtained illicitly.
The court documents state that the receipt was for ‘a large draped statue’, which would refer to an entire stature rather than the one received which ‘would refer to only a portion of a statue, which is what defendant statue is.’
Italian authorities also claimed they believed the statue Kardashian received had appeared at Vervoordt’s stand at the The European Fine Art Fair in March 2011 in Maastricht, Netherlands, a year before he claimed to have bought it.
It was examined in February 2018 by an archaeologist from Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and according to court documents concluded that it was the same statue that appeared at the art fair in 2011 and not the one purchased from Galerie Chenel.
The statue in the shipment was not registered with the right permits for sale and export with court documents concluding: ‘The archaeologist opined that the defendant statute was looted, smuggled and illegally exported from Italy.’
While authorities in Italy have requested to have the statue returned, Ollivier Chenel, the director of Galerie Chenel has claimed that officials have made a mistake due to an error in the paperwork.
He claims Vervoordt had loaned the statue in 2011 for the exhibition before buying it a year later and alleged that the gallery had bought the sculpture legally from an auction house in Germany in 2010, where it had arrived from an English estate.
Metro.co.uk has reached out to reps for Kim Kardashian and Axel Vervoordt for comment.
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