What The U.S. Government Is Asking Of Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian may be used to the limelight, but it's not often that her name makes headlines because of an international art-smuggling scandal. As though the reality star didn't have enough legal proceedings to sort through during her ongoing divorce from Kanye West, she has now been connected to a U.S. government investigation over an Ancient Roman limestone statue. The artwork — known as "Fragment of Myron's Samian Athena," according to Artnet – dates back to the "early to mid-Roman Empire."

As The Independent reported, it seems like Axel Vervoodt, a Belgian art dealer and friend of Kardashian and West, bought the statue from a Paris gallery in 2012. The Galerie Chenel had previously acquired it from a German collection. But the statue's journey across multiple countries came to a halt in Los Angeles when U.S. Customs impounded it in 2016.

The statue was part of a 5000kg collection valued at $745,882, according to court documents filed in California. The 40 pieces, which were labeled as "Antiques & Modern Furniture & Decorations Objects," were being imported in the name of "Kim Kardashian" and the "Noel Roberts Trust." Items of "historical or cultural importance" can't legally be exported without special permission if they were found after 1970, per The Independent. So the fact that no one had reported this statue to the Italian government raised red flags immediately.

Kim Kardashian has denied all knowledge of the looted statue

After Italy's Ministry of Cultural Heritage got involved, an archeologist was hired to investigate the piece's origins in February 2018. And as court documents recorded, the expert concluded that it was an Ancient Roman statue, meaning that it had been "looted, smuggled and illegally exported from Italy."

Kim Kardashian has denied knowing anything about the statue, per Page Six. A statement from her representative claimed that Kardashian "never purchased this piece" and that "this is the first that she has learned of its existence," suggesting that it was bought without her knowledge.

"We believe it may have been purchased using her name without authorization and because it was never received, she was unaware of the transaction," the statement continues. "We encourage an investigation and hope that it gets returned to the rightful owners."

The U.S. government has now filed a civil forfeiture complaint ordering the "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" star to forfeit the ancient statue, on Italy's request.