J Paul Getty Museum Returns to Italy (2007)

Last Modified: 04 Mar 2014

Also known as: Getty Museum Returns to Italy (2007)

2009 Photo Brodie 2

Artefacts returned to Italy in 2007 after Italian investigations into illicit trading.

 In September 1995, the Italian Carabinieri, in conjunction with Swiss police, raided Italian antiquities dealer Giacomo Medici’s storerooms in Geneva Freeport. The raids on Medici’s storerooms were part of a wide-ranging investigation into the antiquities trade out of Italy, and more raids followed in 2001 on US dealer Robert Hecht’s apartment in Paris and in 2002 and 2005 on Italian dealer Gianfranco Becchina’s premises in Basel. The accumulating evidence implicated Marion True, the then Curator of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum, and she was interviewed in 2001 by the Italian prosecutors. More evidence regarding the Getty’s involvement with the Italian antiquities trade came to light in Los Angeles, where the journalists Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino (2005; 2011) obtained more than 1,000 pages of internal Getty documents (which the Getty maintains were stolen). These documents showed that as early as 1985 the Getty had been aware that it had been acquiring material from dubious sources in Italy and Greece, but had continued to do so regardless. In November 2005, Marion True was charged in an Italian court with conspiring to receive stolen art. The evidence collected during the course of the Italian investigation also caused several US art museums to return material to Italy. Foremost among them was the Getty.

The Getty had already returned objects to Italy in 1996, 1999 and 2005. In January 2006, talks commenced between the Getty and Italian officials about further repatriations While Italy was keen to secure the return of fifty-two objects, the Getty was hoping to keep the number down to twenty-one. However, in June 2006, the Los Angeles Times revealed that an internal Getty review conducted in 2005 had reported that 350 of the museum’s antiquities had been acquired from dealers suspected or convicted of dealing in looted artefacts (Felch and Frammolino 2006; Felch and Frammolino 2011: 292). An agreement was reached in June 2006 (Getty 2006a), establishing grounds for a return of objects and future cultural collaborations, but it collapsed soon after (Felch and Frammolino 2011 292).

In October 2006, an offer by the Getty to return twenty-six objects and to share ownership of the Cult Statue of a Goddess (88.AA.76) was turned down by Italy (Felch and Frammolino 2011: 294; Getty 2006b). This  prompted the Getty to announce unilaterally in November 2006 that it intended to return twenty-five of the objects claimed by Italy, together with an additional one that the Getty’s own research had shown to be suspect—26 in total (Getty 2006b; Felch and Frammolino 2011: 298).Sticking points for the Getty were Italian claims made on the Statue of a Victorious Youth (77.AB.30), and the Cult Statue of a Goddess, both of which the museum was refusing to return (J.P. Getty 2006b). Italian officials rejected the offer, threatening the Getty with a future policy of non-cooperation unless their full claim was met (David 2006). Finally, in August 2007, an agreement was reached whereby the Getty would return forty objects to Italy, including the Cult Statue of a Goddess, and would retain possession of the Statue of a Victorious Youth pending the outcome of ongoing legal proceedings in Italy. The agreement also provided for future collaborations between the Getty and cultural institutions in Italy (Getty 2007). The objects returned were:

Five first-century BC Roman fresco fragments (71.AG.111). (Godart and De Caro 2008: 218 no. 62).

Group of Attic Red-Figured calyx krater fragments (Berlin Painter, Kleophrades Painter) (77.AE.5). Acquired in fifty-eight fragments, mostly from Robin Symes, some from Dietrich von Bothmer, a few from Galerie Nefer (proprietor Frieda Tchacos), and one from Frederick Schultz (Watson and Todeschini 2007: 226-227; Godart and De Caro 2008: 94 no. 18).

Apulian Red-Figured volute krater (77.AE.13). Acquired as gift of Gordon McClendon (Gill and Chippindale 2007: 229; Godart and De Caro 2008: 196 no. 54).

Apulian Red-Figured volute krater (77.AE.14). Acquired as gift of Gordon McClendon (Gill and Chippindale 2007: 229; Godart and De Caro 2008: 198 no. 55).

Attic Red-Figured amphora with lid (79.AE.139). Acquired from Antike Kunst Palladion (proprietor Gianfranco Becchina); pictured on Medici Polaroid (Watson and Todeschini 2007: 371; Godart and De Caro 2008: 98 no. 20).

Attic Red-Figured bell krater (81.AE.149). (Godart and De Caro 2008: 124 no. 30).

Three Fragments of Protocorinthian olpe (81.AE.197). Acquired as gift from Galerie Nefer (Godart and De Caro 2008: 54 no. 2).

Attic Red-Figured phiale fragments, attributed to Douris (81.AE.213). Acquired in a series of sixty-three fragments between 1981 and 1990, with an average purchase price per fragment of $3,000, mainly from Galerie Nefer, but with one fragment from Robin Symes and two from Fritz Bürki (Watson and Todeschini 2007: 226-27; Godart and De Caro 2008: 110 no. 24).

Attic Red-Figured calyx krater (82.AE.83). (Godart and De Caro 2008: 126 no. 31).

Etruscan Red-Figured ceramic duck askos (83.AE.203). Acquired as gift from Vasek Polak; said to be from the S. Schweitzer collection, ca. 1940; pictured on Medici Polaroid (Watson and Todeschini 2007: 374; Godart and De Caro 2008: 142 no. 36).

Attic Janiform kantharos (83.AE.218). Purchased from the Royal Athena Galleries (Watson and Todeschini 2007: 375; Godart and De Caro 2008: 114 no. 26).

Attic Red-Figured kylix (83.AE.287). Attributed to Epiktetos (painter); acquired as gift from Michael Milken, valued at $60,000; said to come from the Rycroft collection; pictured on Medici Polaroid (Watson and Todeschini 2007: 372; Godart and De Caro 2008: 82 no. 12).

Attic Red-Figured neck amphora (84.AE.63). Attributed to Euthymides (painter); said to be from collection of E. Pfuhl (ca. 1920s), picture of piece in fragments on Medici negative (Watson and Todeschini 2007: 88-89; Godart and De Caro 2008: 80 no. 11).

Attic Red-Figured kylix (84.AE.569). Signed by Douris (painter) and attributed to Python (potter); bought from Robin Symes; pictured on Medici Polaroid, and also Medici photographic negative of object on display in Getty (Godart and De Caro 2008: 104 no. 22).

Apulian Red-Figured loutrophorus (84.AE.996). Attributed to the Metope group (Godart and De Caro 2008: 190 no. 52).

Fourth-century BC sculptural group of two griffins attacking a fallen doe (85.AA.106). Acquired from Maurice Tempelsman, valued at $5.5 million; acquired by Tempelsman from Robin Symes; pictured on Medici Polaroid (True 2002: 107; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 124-25, 389; Godart and De Caro 2008: 200 no. 56).

Fourth-century BC marble lekanis (85.AA.107). Acquired from Maurice Tempelsman, valued at $2.2 million; pictured on Medici Polaroid (True 2002: 106; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 124-25; Godart and De Caro 2008: 204 no. 57).

Statue of Apollo (85.AA.108). Acquired from Maurice Tempelsman, valued at $2.5 million; pictured on Medici Polaroid (True 2002: 162; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 124-25; Godart and De Caro 2008: 230 no. 66).

Marble bust of a man (85.AA.265). Acquired from Robin Symes; pictured on Medici negative and Polaroid (Watson and Todeschini 2007: 371; Godart and De Caro 2008: 216 no. 61).

Apulian Red-Figured volute krater (85.AE.102). (Godart and De Caro 2008: 164 no. 43).

Attic Red-Figured mask kantharos (85.AE.263). Attributed to the Foundry Painter and Euphronios (potter); bought for $200,000 from Fritz Bürki in 1985; with Robin Symes 1982-1984; pictured on Medici Polaroid (True 2002: 76; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 90-92; Godart and De Caro 2008: 106 no. 23).

Attic Red-Figured kalpis (85.AE.316). Attributed to Kleophrades (painter); bought from Robin Symes; pictured on Medici Polaroid, and Medici photographic negative of object on display in Getty (Watson and Todeschini 2007: 371; Godart and De Caro 2008: 96 no. 19).

Apulian pelike (86.AE.611). Close to Gravina Painter; bought from Fritz Bürki for $42,000 (Felch and Frammolino 2005; Godart and De Caro 2008: 172 no. 46).

Attic Black-Figured zone cup (87.AE.22). Attributed to the manner of the Lysippides Painter; bought from Fritz Bürki via Atlantis Antiquities (True 2002: 62; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 89; Godart and De Caro 2008: 68 no. 7).

Apulian Red-Figured pelike (87.AE.23). Attributed to the Darius Painter; bought from Fritz Burki via Atlantis Antiquities for $60,000; pictured on Medici negative and Polaroid (Watson and Todeschini 2007: 89-90; Godart and De Caro 2008: 180 no. 49).

Cult Statue of a Goddess (88.AA.76). Perhaps Aphrodite; bought from Robin Symes for $18 million; said to have been bought by Symes for $400,000 from Swiss citizen Renzo Canavesi (Frammolino and Felch 2007; True 2002: 104).

Attic Red-Figured calyx krater (88.AE.66). Attributed to the Aegisthus painter (Godart and De Caro 2008: 112 no. 25).

Bronze fifth-century BC askos in the shape of a siren (92.AC.5). (Godart and De Caro 2008: 154 no. 40).

Attic Red-Figured calyx krater (92.AE.6 and 96.AE.335). Signed by Syriskos (painter); bought from Fleischman collection, valued at $800,000; acquired by Fleischmans from Robin Symes in 1988; pictured on Medici Polaroid (True 2002: 78; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 117; Godart and De Caro 2008: 116 no. 27).

Second-century BC statuette of Tyche (96.AA.49). Purchased from Fleischman Collection for $2 million; acquired by Fleischmans from Robin Symes; pictured on Medici Polaroid (True and Kozloff 1994: 237 no. 120; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 375; Godart and De Caro 2008: 208 no. 58).

First-century AD statuette of Dionysos (96.AA.211). Acquired as part of the Fleischman Collection; pictured on Medici Polaroid (True and Kozloff 1994: 339 no. 179; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 378; Godart and De Caro 2008: 228 no. 65).

Etruscan bronze mirror with relief-decorated cover (96.AC.132). Acquired as part of Fleischman Collection; pictured on Medici Polaroid (True and Kozloff 1994: 178 no. 83; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 372; Godart and De Caro 2008: 146 no. 37).

Etruscan antefix in the form of a maenad and Silenos dancing (96.AD.33). Acquired as part of Fleischman Collection; acquired by Fleischmans from Robin Symes; pictured on Medici Polaroid (True and Kozloff 1994: 195 no. 92; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 373; Godart and De Caro 2008: 136 no. 34).

Apulian Red-Figured bell krater (96.AE.29). Attributed to the Choregos painter; acquired as part of Fleischman Collection, valued at $185,000; acquired by Fleischmans from Fritz Bürki; pictured on Medici Polaroid (True and Kozloff 1994: 125 no. 56; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 373, 378; Godart and De Caro 2008: 170 no. 45).

Attic Black-Figured amphora (96.AE.92). Painter of Berlin 1686; acquired as part of Fleischman Collection, valued at $275,000; previously with Atlantis Antiquities in 1988; pictured on Medici Polaroid (True and Kozloff 1994: 81 no. 34; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 374, 376; Godart and De Caro 2008: 60 no. 4).

Attic Black-Figured amphora (96.AE.93). Attributed to the Three-line group; acquired as part of Fleischman Collection; acquired by Fleischmans from Fritz Bürki in 1989 (True and Kozloff 1994: 83 no. 35; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 374, 376; Godart and De Caro 2008: 62 no. 5).

Attic Red-Figured cup (96.AE.97). Attributed to Nikosthenes (painter) and Pamphaios (potter); acquired as part of Fleischman Collection; acquired by Fleischmans from Robin Symes in 1988; pictured on Medici Polaroid (True and Kozloff 1994: 94 no. 39; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 374, 377; Godart and De Caro 2008: 84, no 13).

Paestan squat lekythos (96.AE.119). Attributed to Asteas; acquired as part of Fleischman Collection (True and Kozloff 1994: 146 no. 65; Godart and De Caro 2008: 178 no. 48).

Etruscan Pontic amphora (96.AE.139). Acquired as part of Fleischman Collection, valued at $400,000; bought by Fleischmans from Fritz Bürki in 1988 (True and Kozloff 1994: 190 no. 90; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 374; Godart and De Caro 2008: 130 no. 32).

Fragment of a first-century BC Roman fresco: lunette with mask of Hercules (96.AG.171). Acquired as part of Fleischman Collection, valued at $95,000 (True and Kozloff 1994: 251 no. 126; Watson and Todeschini 2007: 375; Godart and De Caro 2008: 210 no. 59.

References

 

David, Ariel (2006), ‘Italy warns Getty Museum on negotiations’, Associated Press, 20 December.

Felch, Jason and Frammolino, Ralph (2005), ‘Getty had signs it was acquiring possibly looted art, documents show’, Los Angeles Times, 25 September. http://articles.latimes.com/2005/sep/25/local/me-getty25, accessed 27 July 2012.

Felch, Jason and Frammolino, Ralph (2006), ‘Getty’s list of doubts multiplies’, Los Angeles Times, 18 June. http://articles.latimes.com/2006/jun/18/local/me-getty18, accessed 27 July 2012.

Felch, Jason and Frammolino, Ralph (2011), Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Frammolino, Ralph and Felch, Jason (2007), ‘The Getty’s troubled goddess’, Los Angeles Times, 3 January. http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jan/03/local/me-aphrodite3, accessed 27 July 2012.

Getty (2006a), ‘The J Paul Getty Trust and the Italian Ministry of Culture issue joint statement’, press release, 21 June (J. Paul Getty Trust).

Getty (2006b), ‘The J. Paul Getty Museum to return 26 objects to Italy’, press release, 21 November (J. Paul Getty Trust). http://www.getty.edu/news/press/center/statement06_getty_italy_meeting111706.html, accessed 27 July 2012.

Getty (2007), ‘Italian Ministry of Culture and the J. Paul Getty Museum sign agreement in Rome’, press release, 1 August (J. Paul Getty Trust). http://www.getty.edu/news/press/center/italy_getty_joint_statement_080107.html, accessed 27 July 2002.

Gill, David and Chippindale, Christopher (2007), ‘From Malibu to Rome: further developments on the return of antiquities’, International Journal of Cultural Property, 14: 205-40.

Godart, Louis and De Caro, Stefano (2008), Nostoi. Capolavori Ritrovati (Rome: Segretariato Generale della Presidenza della Repubblica).

True, Marion (2002), Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum).

True, Marion and Kozloff, Arielle (1994), A Passion for Antiquities. Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum).

Watson, Peter and Todeschini, Cecilia (2007), The Medici Conspiracy (New York: Public Affairs).