Kim Kardashian denies importing ancient Roman statue in $750,000 shipment

The limestone piece was seized by officials in 2016 and is believed to be a looted work

Kim Kardashian has found herself caught up in an unlikely international art smuggling row involving an ancient Roman sculpture that was imported to California under her name. AFP
Kim Kardashian has found herself caught up in an unlikely international art smuggling row involving an ancient Roman sculpture that was imported to California under her name. AFP

Kim Kardashian has denied knowledge about the import of an Ancient Roman statue, which was seized by US customs in a shipment under her name.

The statue was held by customs officials in 2016, describing it in a later report as “looted, smuggled and illegally exported from Italy”. Along with the sculpture, Kardashian's shipment allegedly contained 40 antiques, modern furniture and other decorative items. In total, it weighed 5.5 tonnes and was valued at $745,882.

Made of limestone, the work, titled Fragment of Myron's Samian Athena, features the lower half of a female figure and dates back to the first century. The work arrived in the US in May 2016, but was detained at the border after the logistics company handling the import had the wrong documentation for the piece.

The antique Roman statue that was purchased by Kim Kardashian. Photo courtesy PACER.
'Fragment of Myron Samian Athena', the antique Roman statue that was purchased by Kim Kardashian. Courtesy PACER

In 2018, Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage sent an archaeologist to examine the work. The court documents also reveal that 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”.

ArtNet reported that a civil forfeiture action on April 30 named Kardashian as the consignee and importer of the sculpture. Court documents reveal that the celebrity bought the sculpture from Axel Vervoordt Gallery in Belgium in 2016.

At the time, Vervoordt was working with Kardashian to decorate her mansion in Calabasas, which she shared with husband Kanye West at the time. The art dealer purchased the statue in 2012 from a Parisian gallery, Galerie Chenel, which specialises in Roman antiquities.

However, authorities have questioned whether the seized sculpture is in fact the one from the gallery. Instead, US officials claim Kardashian’s piece is one that was obtained illegally.

“The November 2012 Galerie Chenel invoice did not appear to be for the defendant statute because the term ‘a large draped statue’ would refer to an entire/whole draped natural-sized statue and a ‘fragment of Myron Samian Athena’ would refer to only a portion of a statue, which is what defendant statue is,” court documents stated.

“In addition, the invoice that Masterpiece International provided to CBP contained handwritten notations indicating that the defendant statue originated from Italy,” it continued.

Italian authorities have stated they believe the statue was included in Vervoordt’s stand at the The European Fine Art Fair in March 2011 in Maastricht, Netherlands, challenging the art dealer’s claim that he purchased it from Galerie Chenel in 2012.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Kardashian’s spokesperson denies she had any knowledge that the statue was being imported in her name. “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.”

The photo gallery below shows how Kim Kardashian's style has evolved since 2006:

Updated: May 5, 2021 04:59 PM

SHARE

EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS
Sign up to:

* Please select one