‘Stuck’ at Mar-a-Lago: Israel Is Having A Hard Time Getting Back Antiquities Lent to A 2019 Trump Event

A collection of precious antiquities belonging to Israel has been embroiled in a prolonged episode at former US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, with senior Israeli figures attempting in vain to repatriate the artifacts back to their homeland.

Among the treasured items are ancient ceramic oil lamps, considered part of Israel’s national treasures collection. These artifacts were sent to the United States in 2019 for a Hanukkah event attended by then-president Trump, and the prominent Jewish-American donor to the Antiquities Authority, Saul Fox. The intention was to exhibit the oil lamps briefly in Washington and promptly return them to Israel.

However, the oil lamps were never displayed at the White House over concerns that they may have been taken from the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Instead of being returned to Israel, the artifacts somehow became “stuck” in the country, as Israeli sources disclosed.

The Antiquities Authority, apprehensive about potential damage during regular transportation, sought to send an emissary to retrieve the items, but their plans were thwarted by the unexpected outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Consequently, the Authority asked Fox to hold onto the antiquities temporarily until a safe return to Israel could be arranged.

Nevertheless, the antiquities never found their way back home, and to the surprise of Israeli authorities, it was discovered that, like the over 300 classified documents Trump took from the White House, they had ended up at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida several months ago. But, unlike the classified documents, the treasures are still at the Mar-a-Lago estate to this day.

Current Director of the Antiquities Authority, Eli Eskozido, has sought assistance from the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, and former US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, in facilitating the return of the artifacts, but so far, their efforts have been fruitless. 

It’s unclear whether Trump himself is aware of the presence of these ancient treasures on his estate.

The situation has been described by an Israeli official as a “misunderstanding,” with the Antiquities Authority acknowledging that they acted too late in resolving the issue following the initial White House event.

Mar-a-Lago has gained notoriety as a hiding place for Trump’s mementos. The FBI conducted a raid at the estate earlier this year, recovering multiple boxes of over 300 classified documents from Trump’s White House tenure. Photographs emerged showing crates of documents stored in spaces you normally wouldn’t put classified US documents in, like bathrooms, a ballroom, and storage areas. 

An insider familiar with the matter speculated that the sought-after Israeli antiquities might also be tucked away in some obscure location on the property.

Information for this story was found via The Guardian, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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