Italy judge wants ancient statue seized from Getty

Thu Feb 11, 2010 1:40pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Ella Ide

ROME (Reuters Life!) - An Italian judge ordered the seizure of an ancient Greek statue from the J. Paul Getty Museum on Thursday, the latest round in a lengthy legal dispute over artworks Italy says were looted from its territory.

The Los Angeles-based museum, which bought the bronze statue for $3.9 million in 1977, said it would appeal to Italy's top court against the ruling.

Prosecutors in the Italian city of Pesaro argued that the highly prized sculpture -- which depicts an athlete crowned with an olive wreath -- was illegally smuggled out of Italy and the museum did not carry out proper checks before buying it.

Pesaro judge Lorena Mussoni ordered that the statue, called the "Statue of a Victorious Youth," be "seized from the Getty Museum or wherever it may be at the moment."

In a statement, the J. Paul Getty Trust, one of the richest U.S. art institutions, said it would "vigorously defend its legal ownership of the statue."

It said the same court in Pesaro had dismissed an earlier case in 2007 over whether the statue belonged to Italy, ruling that the statute of limitations had long expired, that there was no one to prosecute under Italian law, and that the Getty was to be considered "a good faith owner."

"In fact, no Italian court has ever found any person guilty of any criminal activity in connection with the export or sale of the statue," the statement said.