Monday, 8 March 2021

Statue of a Victorious Youth ordered returned to Italy

Among the J. Paul Getty Museum’s most treasured items is a bronze Greek statue of a young man, his weight shifted onto his right leg, his head crowned with an olive wreath — the prize bestowed on victorious athletes in ancient Greece. “Statue of a Victorious Youth” was discovered in the Adriatic Sea by Italian fishermen in 1964, and purchased by the Getty in 1977. It was made between 300 and 100 BCE. The Getty Museum Board of Trustees bought the bronze in the United Kingdom for $3.95 million.

In 1989, the Italian government asked the Getty to return “Statue of a Victorious Youth,” and the fight over the bronze has been ongoing ever since. A 1939 Italian law stipulates that Italy can lay claim to any antiquity discovered on its territory, but the Getty has argued that the law does not apply in this case because the statue was discovered in international waters.

In the wake of the most recent 2018 ruling, the Getty filed an appeal with the Court of Cassation, Italy’s highest judicial authority.
Romans probably carried the Greek statue off from its original location during the first century B.C., when Roman collecting of Greek art was at its height.