Kim Kardashian involved in smuggling row over ancient Roman sculpture

LOS ANGELES Kim Kardashian found herself caught up in an unlikely international art smuggling row on Tuesday involving an ancient Roman sculpture that was imported to California under her name.

US prosecutors last week called for the statue fragment - which was seized at a Los Angeles port in 2016 - to be forfeited and returned to Italy, citing an Italian archaeologist who found it saying the piece had been "looted, smuggled and illegally exported".

Court documents said the consignee and importer name was listed 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".

The Noel Roberts Trust is an entity linked to real estate purchases and sales made by Kardashian and her estranged rapper-husband Kanye West in the US.

Axel Vervoordt is a Belgian art dealer responsible for the decoration of Kardashian's mansion near Los Angeles, according to the Artnet News website.

But a spokesman for Kardashian on Tuesday dismissed US media reports tying the US reality TV star to the statue, saying they did not contain "accurate information".

The statue itself - referred to as Fragment Of Myron Samian Athena - is thought to date to the early to mid- Roman Empire and depicts the lower half of a person draped in fabric.

Deepening the mystery, prosecutors said the invoice provided to them by the customs broker for the fragment's previous 2012 sale to Vervoordt by a gallery in Paris appeared to refer to a different statue entirely. - AFP