Italian High Court Demands L.A.’s Getty Museum Return Ancient Statue

An international legal fight is escalating over a rare, 2,000-year-old Greek statue.

An ancient Greek bronze sculpture, uncovered by Italian fishermen off the Adriatic coast in 1964, has spent the last 41 years on display at L.A.s J. Paul Getty Museum; however, an Italian high court just ruled the rare masterwork must be returned to Italy.

The 2,000-year-old piece — called the “Statue of a Victorious Youth,” and attributed to prominent Greek artist Lysippos — is one of a few life-size Greek bronze statues that have survived through the millennia.

It was purchased by the Getty Museum in 1977 for $4 million, and museum officials aren’t handing it over without a fight, arguing the court order violates U.S. and international law.

The museum pointed to a 1968 ruling by the Italian high court that stated there was no evidence the Italian government had the right to claim the statue–which was quickly sold by the fisherman, hidden and smuggled out of the country.


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