Reality TV star Kim Kardashian has denied smuggling an ancient Roman sculpture into the United States, the Daily Mail reported citing her spokesman. According to him, Kardashian never purchased the statue and did not know 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 spokesman told the newspaper.
The statement comes a day after local media reported that US authorities had asked Kardashian to forfeit the ancient sculpture she reportedly bought in 2016.
When it arrived in the United States that year it caught the attention of US Customs and Border Protection officials, who thought that it fell under a bilateral agreement on protected cultural property that the US signed with Italy.
An Italian archaeologist, who arrived to examine the sculpture, concluded that it's likely a "Fragment of Myron's Samian Athena". Made of limestone, it reportedly dates back to the 1st or 2nd century. The archaeologist concluded that it was "looted, smuggled, and illegally exported from Italy".
The value of the statue is unknown, but according to media reports when it was sent to the United States along with other 40 antiques, modern furniture, and decorative objects, the shipment was valued at almost $746,000. A civil forfeiture complaint filed in a Los Angeles Court on 30 April says that the statue was purchased by the Noel Roberts Trust, an entity through which Kim Kardashian and her ex-husband Kanye West bought their house in Calabasas.
Initially, the sculpture was bought by interior designer Axel Vervoordt, who worked on the couple's home. The Belgian, who helped design the houses of such stars as singer Sting and actor Robert De Niro, reportedly then sold the statue to Kardashian.
According to the director of the Galerie Chenel in Paris, which sold the sculpture to Vervoordt, the gallery bought it from a German auction house, which in turn received it from an English estate.