This is not a drill: a real-life art heist is afoot. In a story that sounds ripped from an Ocean’s movie, Kim Kardashian is being accused of purchasing a stolen piece of antiquity Roman art — and the government wants her to turn it over to the feds. In the wise and deeply prescient words of Kris Jenner, this is a case for the FBI.
As Artnet first reported, a federal district judge has ordered that Kardashian return a Roman sculpture that she had purchased through the Axel Vervoordt Gallery in Belgium. In addition to representing artists, the gallery bills itself as an “antiques trading organization” and offers interior design services — indeed, the company helped handle the decoration of Kardashian’s curiously hyper-minimalist home. Remember those hidden bathroom sinks that befuddled the entire internet? That’s the work of the Axel Vervoordt Gallery.
The sculpture, titled Fragment of Myron’s Samian Athena, dates back to AD 1-2; in other words, it’s a cool 2,000 years old. It is crafted in limestone, and depicts the bottom half of a figure with draped clothing covering most of the legs and a foot peeking out from the base. As a work of art, it would certainly look right at home in the Kardashian monastery house.
Here’s where it gets heisty. The sculpture arrived in Los Angeles in 2016 as part of a larger shipment of “40 antiques, Modern furniture, and decorative objects” valued at $745,882 (it is not known if the entire shipment belonged to Kardashian, or was just packed with goods owned by others). Upon examination, customs officials detained the piece after noticing discrepancies in the sale and authentication records. The documents in question include “a contradictory statement by way of an unsworn affidavit” from the gallery’s director and a Kardashian’s sale invoice, all of which appear extremely shady, according to the report.
American officials contacted Italian cultural authorities, who allege that the sculpture was “looted, smuggled, and illegally exported from Italy.” Kardashian must forfeit the piece back to Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage or she will be in violation of a federal order, though she has the right to an appeal and further litigation.
For those of us who played Animal Crossing throughout quarantine, we know that fake and boosted art is a scourge that can ensnare even the most well-meaning aesthetes, so no one is blaming Kardashian for the alleged theft. Still, we hope Kardashian does the right thing and returns to the relic to its homeland. See the piece below.