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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - An Israeli accused of knowingly selling antiques that had been stolen in high-profile heists in France to U.S. buyers was extradited to New York and appeared in Manhattan federal court.
Shlomo Solly Sinai "possessed and sold, or attempted to sell, art and antiques previously stolen during three burglaries committed in Paris," according to court documents.
The three burglaries occurred within a 15-month period, starting in 1997 with the theft of 200 Japanese antique miniature sculptures, said Steven Cerutti of the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a 2004 complaint.
Next was a $1 million theft of art and antiques, including four pairs of Napoleon-era pistols, followed by over 100 bronze sculptures taken from a Paris gallery, including "first casts" by artist Louis Barye, the complaint said.
According to French media, the bronzes were taken from a gallery owned by Francois Fabius, who is now deceased. He was the brother of former French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius.
Sinai, who was arrested in France in 2008, pleaded not-guilty through an Israeli interpreter to charges of selling stolen property.
His extradition from France was requested by the US District Court, Southern District of New York. He will be held in custody pending a bail application.
Reporting by Basil Katz; Editing by Patricia Reaney