Victorious Youth statue

Victorious Youth statue – European Court affirms Italy’s right to claim

Culture News

A ruling by a European court has affirmed Italy’s rightful claim to a 2,000-year-old Greek statue currently housed at the Getty Museum in California.

The statue, known as the Victorious Youth or Getty Bronze, has been the subject of a prolonged dispute since Italy alleged that it was unlawfully acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recently rejected an appeal by the trust against Italy’s 2018 confiscation order. It states Italian authorities acted within their rights to recover a piece of cultural heritage unlawfully exported from the Getty Villa Museum in Malibu.

Discovered by fishermen off Pesaro, Italy’s Adriatic coast, in 1964, the statue changed hands several times before being purchased by the Getty Trust in 1977. Despite assertions by the Getty that the statue’s acquisition was lawful, Italy has persistently claimed that it was smuggled out of the country and acquired illegally.

Following a lower court’s confiscation order in 2010, Italy intensified efforts to reclaim looted relics, prompting renewed demands for the statue’s return from the US.

Getty defends ownership of Victorious Youth statue

The Getty has defended its ownership, arguing that the statue was found in international waters and, therefore, does not fall under Italy’s cultural heritage jurisdiction. However, Italy contends that the statue’s origins lie within its borders, supported by evidence suggesting it was crafted by the Greek sculptor Lysippos.

The recent ruling by the ECHR marks a significant milestone in Italy’s quest to repatriate the statue. It emphasised the importance of preserving cultural heritage and safeguarding against illicit trafficking. Italy’s Culture Minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, welcomed the decision, underscoring the nation’s commitment to protecting its artistic legacy.

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