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Italy granted authority to seize ancient Greek bronze from Getty Museum

Italy granted authority to seize ancient Greek bronze from Getty Museum
By Yagiz Efe Parmaksiz
May 2, 2024 9:42 PM

Italy has been granted permission to remove the Greek bronze sculpture “Victorious Youth” from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, a decision that has caused tensions between Italy and the US

Europe’s highest human rights court gave Italy permission to take the Greek bronze sculpture “Victorious Youth” out of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles on Thursday in a historic decision. The artwork, which shows an athlete in the nude, was taken from the Adriatic Sea during the 1960s and has since caused tensions between Italy and the US.

The statue’s strange disappearance following its discovery in 1964 marked the beginning of its tale, which dates back to the 6th century BC and is credited to the great Greek sculptor Lysippos. When the Getty Museum purchased it in 1977, it came to light again and sparked a legal dispute over its ownership and its burial place.

Italy has fought hard for the recovery of the relic, claiming that its value to the nation’s cultural legacy justifies its seizure. “We’ve been working flat out” to repossess the artwork, declared Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, signaling that Rome would no longer deal with institutions embroiled in similar conflicts.

The Getty Museum’s appeal was denied by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which maintained Italy’s seizure decision. The statue’s retrieval by an Italian-flagged vessel and its essential significance in the continuation of Greek and Roman cultural heritage underscored the court’s justifiable claim to ownership for Italy.

In addition, the court chastised the Getty Museum for allegedly acquiring the artwork negligently or perhaps in bad faith by ignoring the rights of Italian authorities over it. The decision emphasized how crucial it is to do extensive due diligence when confirming the origin of cultural objects in order to avert any confiscation claims.

This decision is in accordance with global initiatives, such as the 1970 UNESCO treaty, to prevent the illicit trafficking of cultural items. The wider ramifications of this decision for the preservation of cultural property throughout the globe are highlighted by Italy’s prior disputes with the Getty Museum, which include a 2007 accord for the restitution of purportedly pilfered ancient artifacts.

The Getty Museum has the right, for the next three months, to ask for the case to be reexamined in spite of the decision. The result of such a request is still unknown, though, thus Italy and the United States are left to negotiate this intricate legal and cultural debate while unsure of what will happen to the “Victorious Youth” statue.

Source: AFP

Last Updated:  Jun 3, 2024 4:56 PM