Italian Court: Getty Museum Must Return ‘Victorious Youth’ Statue

After a decade-long legal battle, Italy’s highest court has ruled that “Victorious Youth,” a 2,000-year-old bronze sculpture, must be returned to Italy by the J. Paul Getty Museum. The contentious statue currently resides just outside of Los Angeles as the centerpiece of the Getty Villa’s art collection. The statue is dated at 300–100 B.C. and is believed to have been created by a Greek artist, but was discovered in Adriatic waters by Italian fishermen in 1964. After its discovery, the statue was sold several times and taken abroad under murky circumstances. The Getty Trust bought the statue from an antiquities dealer in Germany for $3.95 million in 1977. According to Lorenzo D’Ascia, a lawyer representing the Italian government, the Getty Trust bought the statue without an export permit. The Getty argues that since the statue was discovered in international waters it is not viable for Italian repatriation. “It was a very, very long process, but we now hope that we will be able to have it in Italy as soon as possible,” D’Ascia said. The Getty has already returned 40 artifacts to Italy.