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US counsel sought on Getty Bronze

'Major US legal studio' wanted in Greek statue case

23 April, 17:00
US counsel sought on Getty Bronze (ANSA) - Ancona, April 23 - The government of the Marche region is set to retain US legal counsel to back its bid to recover a priceless Ancient Greek statue from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Cultural authorities in the Adriatic region said they were "all the more determined" to get the so-called 'Getty Bronze' back after a local judge on Wednesday rejected an appeal from the US museum against a February confiscation order by another judge.

Marche Culture Councillor Pietro Marcolini "is personally taking steps to flank regional lawyers with a major US legal studio," a statement from the Marche government said.

This would provide the knowledge of US law needed in the case, it said.

Despite Wednesday's blow for the Getty in the long-running dispute, the LA institute still has an appeal pending before Italy's highest appeals court, the Court of Cassation.

The 4th-century BC 'Statue of a Victorious Youth' is believed to be the handiwork of Lysippos, perhaps the most acclaimed of ancient Greek sculptors, who grew to fame under the patronage of Alexander the Great.

It was fished out of the sea off the Marche town of Fano 46 years ago. Italian and US experts have voiced doubts that Italian art police will be empowered to get the statue back.

Legal experts say the Cassation Court may find in the Getty's favour while art experts point to accords between the US institute and the Italian culture ministry which have spawned a series of loans and projects.

Immediately after February's confiscation order, Italian Culture Minister Sandro Bondi instructed a top heritage official, Sandro Resca, to "follow the case with particular attention" in the light of a 2008 accord whereby the Getty returned contested works in exchange for boosted collaboration on digs and restoration of antiquities.

The statue was not part of the deal, which returned art treasures including a famous 5th-century BC statue of Aphrodite.

In February a judge in Pesaro ruled the statue had become state property the moment it came up out of the Adriatic in 1964 and could not have been sold afterwards without breaking Italian laws on antiquities.

The Getty Museum has consistently fought past Italian attempts to recover the statue.

Italian culture officials claim the art dealers who sold it to the Getty smuggled the statue out of the country.

STATUE FETCHED 800 TIMES WHAT FISHERMEN PAID.

The statue has been contested ever since the Getty bought it for some four million dollars in 1977 - almost 800 times the $5,600 the fishermen sold it to Italian dealers for in 1964.

It remains unclear how the piece came into the museum's collection, where it re-emerged after disappearing for some 13 years and, according to one expert, changing hands across the Atlantic at least twice.

American industrialist J. Paul Getty, whose collection laid the groundwork for the LA museum, was reportedly hesitant about the purchase, which went ahead after he died in 1974.

The 2008 exchange deal with the Getty was the third between Italy and major US institutions.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts also agreed to return key parts of their classical collections in return for loans of equivalent value.

Princeton University has since inked a similar deal for the return of eight Etruscan and Greek artefacts.

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