Sunday, 10 June 2018

Judge Issues Ordinance on the Fate of the "Getty" Bronze

"Coming home soon, I hope"
Italian magistrate issues order for the seizure of the Getty bronze, aka Victorious Athlete (l’Atleta di Fano).  Getty lawyers had successfully appealed two prior orders on procedural grounds.

Lynda Albertson has a good writeup in the ARCA blog giving the legal background in detail:
Throughout the case, the J. Paul Getty Museum has stood by its original claim, that its purchase of the statue in 1977, for $3.95 million, was legitimate. The museum's legal team and its current director Timothy Potts have stoically maintained that there was no evidence that the statue belongs in any way to Italy, discounting the country's claim that the object was exported out of Italy in contravention of existing Italian law. This despite the fact that the bronze had been fished from the sea by Italian fishermen aboard the Ferruccio Ferri in 1964, who then brought the statue to the Italian city of Fano where they hid it from authorities, first, by burying it in a cabbage patch and later, by hiding it in a priest's bathtub rather than declare their cultural find as required to the Italian customs dogana. 
Derek Fincham also discusses it.

UPDATE June 11th 2018

The Getty issues a statement (on 11th June, Trumpishly backdated to the 8th):
"the statue is not part of Italy’s extraordinary cultural heritage [...]. We very much value our strong and fruitful relationship with the Italian Ministry of Culture and our museum colleagues in Italy. Resolution of this matter must rest on the facts and applicable law, under which we expect our ownership of the Victorious Youth to be upheld."
So, the question therefore arises, is it part of the heritage of the piece of land known as the USA?


Brian Curtiss said...

Would a fair resolution be for the museum to return the artifact to Italy for the price the museum paid? Should Italy have it returned without compensation to the museum because it was a fraudulent transaction? What is the right resolution? It clearly is part of Italy’s history, not the USA. Should all artifacts purchased and originating from another country be returned or just the most valuable ones? Are artifacts purchased from museums in the originating country, or with the approval of the government at the time, even decades ago, legitimate purchases? If once regarded by a country as acceptable commerce do changes in a country’s value of their lost cultural artifacts void those transactions? What is a fair resolution?

Paul Barford said...

>Would a fair resolution be for the museum to return the artifact to Italy for the price the museum paid? <
On whom would it be 'fair'? Why should Italy buy back what is rightfully property of Italian citizens just because a foreign Museum's trustees (the name means something, no?) failed to establish the purchase was 100% licit? If your mate's daughter is kidnapped by human traffickers and is discovered by US law enforcement to have been illegally transported out of the US and sold into a Brazilian brothel, in what way would it be 'fair' for her family to be asked to refund the price the Johns paid the traffickers for her? It is the same situation.

The problem is the object is not in any way a 'legiotimate purchase' and the only reason there is any discussion is that the US museum refuses to own up to that.

It is FAIR not to steal other people's cultural property.

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