Thursday, February 11, 2010
The Return of Victorious Youth
An Italian judge in a thirty seven page court order has found the Greek life size bronze statue in J. Paul Getty Villa in Pacific Palasades, California is to be returned to Italy though that is what was expected to happen.
Fishermen found the Greek bronze statue of a youth in international waters in 1964 and hid it in a cabbage patch in Fano, Italy before they sold it to someone who smuggled it out of the country where it appeared on the German art market in 1972 for $4 million.
The ancient statue is known as "Victorious youth" and is a prize in the Getty villa complete with it's own climate controlled room. The case now relys on documents to prove or disprove Getty ownership as all the central figures including the fishermen who found the statue are deceased. J. Paul Getty himself had doubts about the statues provenance but after his death it was finally purchased for his Villa in 1977.
In recent years the Getty museum has been functioning under critical eyes from foreign countries who believe many of the museums masterpieces were stolen. The Getty has as a result handed back dozens of the collections finest pieces while an important Greek kouros is most likely a forgery making this statue all the more important to the museum.
For know the Getty holds tight to what may be it's most important piece of ancient Greek art still in its collection. Sadly the Getty museum came into its great wealth to acquire ancient art a century too late. It is to be expected that the Getty statue is probably going nowhere as regardless of what a judge in Italy thinks.