Officials from the US and Palestine met in Bethlehem on Thursday to discuss historic repatriation. Credit: Ministry of Tourism
According to a statement by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the cosmetic spoon was invented in approximately 800,700 BCE. It was used to pour incense onto fires to offer it to the gods and the dead.
Rula Maayah from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, was present at the ceremony and stated that the artifact has “acquires it real scientific and archaeological value in its original location.”
She said that she had received information from the US and that investigations showed that the artifact had been stolen from Khirbet al-Koum in Hebron.
George Noll, the chief of the US Office of Palestinian Affairs was also present at this ceremony. He said that the repatriation was “an historic moment between American and Palestinian peoples and a demonstration of how we believe in the power of cultural interchanges in building mutual understanding and respect.
After a multi-national criminal investigation by Manhattan DA Office’s into US billionaire Michael Steinhardt, the ivory cosmetic spoon was seized.
Steinhardt gave up 180 stolen relics valued at $70 million, and agreed to an “unprecedented lifetime ban” on the acquisition of antiquities in December 2021 CNN reported.
According to a statement by the DA’s office, investigators discovered that Steinhardt was one of the largest collectors of ancient art in the world and was also the owner of looted artifacts smuggled from 11 countries by 12 criminal networks.
Andrew J. Levander, and Theodore V. Wells Jr., Steinhardt’s attorneys, stated in a statement to CNN that their client was happy that the DA’s investigation ended without any charges. They also said that the items taken wrongfully by others would be returned to their home countries.
The Manhattan DA has since returned many of these looted artifacts including a $1.2million antiquity to Libya and two artifacts that were sent to Iraq in January 2022, 39 antiquities worth $5 million to Israel in March 2022, and 58 antiquities to Italy including 21 seized at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in September 2022.