What is Fragment of Myron's Samian Athena? Kim Kardashian DENIES trying to import 'stolen' ancient Roman statue

What is Fragment of Myron's Samian Athena? Kim Kardashian DENIES trying to import 'stolen' ancient Roman statue
The 'Fragment of Myron's Samian Athena' was reportedly imported under Kim Kardashian's name who was 'unaware' of the transaction (Justice Department, Getty Images)

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian found her name crop up in an unlikely international art smuggling row involving an ancient Roman sculpture that was imported to California under her name. The 'Keeping with the Kardashians' star has denied any knowledge of an ancient statue which was part of a $750,000 shipment in her name that was confiscated by customs authorities at a Los Angeles port in 2016 because the sculpture was 'looted, smuggled and illegally exported from Italy', the Daily Mail reported on May 4.

Italian officials believe the sculpture, described as "Fragment of Myron's Samian Athena, Limestone, Roman, 1st – 2nd century AD," was originally looted from Italy, and they want it returned, according to a civil complaint for forfeiture filed in federal court in Los Angeles last week. The sculpture, an ancient Roman limestone statue was allegedly brought to Los Angeles in 2016 when Kardashian and her ex-husband Kanye West were renovating their Calabasas residence, but it was confiscated by customs agents. Kardashian reportedly bought it from the Axel Vervoordt Gallery in Belgium, Artnet reports.


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The 'Fragment of Myron's Samian Athena' (Justice Department)

What is the Fragment of Myron Samian Athena?

The statue called the "Fragment of Myron's Samian Athena, Limestone, Roman, 1st – 2nd century AD," which represents a person's lower half, is believed to date from the early to mid-Roman Empire. The statue was described as "of classical Peplophoros style which represents a copy of an original Greek sculpture" by the Italian archaeologist who examined it. Samia was an Ancient Greek city, located in the Elis region in western Peloponnese.

Although the sculpture has not yet been identified, a picture of the statue released by the Department of Justice bears a strong resemblance to an original sculpture which may have been made by Myron of Eleutherae, an Athenian sculptor from the mid-5th century BC. While none of his original sculptures are known to have survived, there are a large number of what are thought to be later marble copies, mainly Roman.

The limestone statue resembles part of what is now a group of sculptures called Athena and Marsyas. The 1st century CE masterpiece by Myron, now lost, showed the goddess Athena and the satyr Marsyas and catches the moment when Athena, after inventing the double flute, the aulòs, throws it to the ground and Marsyas, enticed by the beautiful sound, attempts to take the instrument. 

The Greek travel writer Pausanias (2nd-century CE) noted a group of Athena in the act of striking (or advancing upon) the satyr Marsyas. This group—which includes naked Marsyas marching toward her and Athena moving away with a trailing left arm reaching for the flutes—has been reconstructed from versions of the characters that were known from depictions of the scene on later works.

Roman copies of Athena and Marsyas by Myrone (Wikimedia Commons/Vatican Museums)

Kim 'unaware of the transaction'

The 'Fragment of Myron Samian Athena' was part of a 5.5-ton shipment valued at $745,882 and said to contain 40 antiques, including modern furniture and decorative objects. A form provided by the broker to CBP listed the consignee, or buyer and importer as "'Kim Kardashian dba Noel Roberts Trust' in Woodland Hills, California" and referred to an invoice "for the sale of the defendant statue by Vervoordt to Noel Robert Trust, dated March 11, 2016" reported NBC News. 

The Noel Roberts Trust is an entity linked to real estate purchases and sales made by Kardashian and West in the United States. Vervoordt is a Belgian art dealer who was responsible for the decoration of Kardashian's mansion near Los Angeles, according to the Artnet News website. But a spokeswoman for Kardashian dismissed media reports tying the reality star to the statue, telling AFP they did not contain "accurate information". However, documents in the case do not allege any wrongdoing by Kardashian.

“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 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,” a representative for Kardashian said, according to Page Six.

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