Kim Kardashian is now embroiled in an international art-smuggling case. According to a report by CBS Los Angeles, Kardashian was named in a federal civil forfeiture action over the statue "Fragment of Myron's Samian Athena," which may date back to the early days of the Roman Empire. The statue was purchased with Axel Vervoordt, Kardashian's home interior decorator.
Homeland Security Investigations officials reportedly seized the statue in May of 2016, along with 5 tons of other goods in a massive shipment labeled "Antiques and Modern Furniture and Decorations Objects." The shipment was addressed to "Kim Kardashian dba Noel Roberts Trust," but it was intercepted at the Port of Los Angeles. Authorities have had the statue in custody since then, but have been gathering information about it and its journey before filing this lawsuit.
The statue is made of marble and limestone and shows the lower portion of a human figure. Homeland Security reportedly enlisted an archaeologist from Italy's Ministry of Cultural Heritage, who guessed that the statue is from the early to mid-Roman Empire era based on its Peplophoros style. They also believed it was the same statue photographed by Italy's Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in March of 2011 at an art fair in the Netherlands.
This contradicted Vervoordt's statement that he purchased the statue in 2012. The archaeologist was able to confirm that the statue was from Italy and likely of historic value, meaning it should have been reported as a fortuitous find — or at least been listed on an export license according to Italian law.
Vervoordt is an art dealer known to have decorated Kardashian's lavish mansion in Calabasas, California. Authorities estimated the value of the shipment they intercepted in 2016 at $745,882. They believe the "Fragment of Myron's Samian Athena" was looted and smuggled out of Italy at some point. The statue will remain in federal custody throughout the impending lawsuit.
So far, the lawsuit makes no accusations against Kardashian personally, and a representative for the reality star told NBC News that "this is the first that she has learned of its existence." They went on: "We believe it may have been purchased using her name without authorization 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."
This investigation is reportedly part of an ongoing cooperative effort between the U.S. and Italy to stop the trafficking of pillaged cultural goods. While the lawsuit will be allowed to play out, the court documents show that Italy's Carabinieri wants the statue returned whenever possible.