US District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, announced Wednesday the return of “Veiled Head of a Female,” a marble antiquity dating back to 350 B.C.E valued at approximately $1,200,000, to the people of Libya, saying in December 2021, the Manhattan D.A.’s Office concluded a multi-year, multi-national criminal investigation into Michael Steinhardt, one of the world’s largest ancient art collectors, seizing 180 stolen antiquities valued at $70 million and imposing a first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.
The Veiled Head of a Female is the first object of that collection to be repatriated to its country of origin.
The relic was returned during a repatriation ceremony attended by Chargé d’Affaires of the Libyan Embassy Khaled Daief, and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations Deputy Special Agent-in-Charge Erik Rosenblatt.
“After a thorough investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, we are grateful for the opportunity to repatriate this cultural artifact. We would like to express our highest appreciation and gratitude for the efforts undertaken by the New York District Attorney and his staff, the Department of Homeland Security, and everyone that worked to ensure that this invaluable Libyan artifact returns to its homeland in Shahat Museum.” Daief said.
Meanwhile, US ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, applauded the efforts of the Manhattan District Attorney and Home Security Office for their successful repatriation of an ancient funerary bust from Cyrene.
Norland said on the US embassy page on Twitter that this is a victory for Libya, as well as law enforcement and the rule of law.
He added that the US is committed to protecting Libya’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, representing the country’s shared history and identity.