A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Limestone and marble statue of a cult goddess, ca. 400 B.C.
Reports of a large statue being looted from the ancient Greek city of Morgantina in Sicily in 1979 may refer to this piece, a depiction of a goddess. Her head and arms were fashioned of marble and set on a limestone body, typical of statues made in Sicily during this period.
When the Getty bought the statue in 1988 for $18 million, museum employees noticed that dirt was still present in its folds, a clue that the goddess had been recently unearthed--and likely looted. The statue's fine condition means it may have been taken from inside the remains of a temple, which if identified would be a clue to which goddess the statue depicts. She might represent Aphrodite, Hera, Demeter, or still another deity, but because the piece was illegally unearthed we will never know.
Status: The Getty will return the statue to Italy in 2010; until then, it is on display at the Getty Villa.
Marble table support in the form of griffins attacking a doe, 325-300 B.C.
This sculpture depicts two griffins devouring a fallen deer, symbolizing the victory of the civilized world over barbarians. Carved from a single block of marble, the artifact still retains some paint on its surface.
Italian authorities suspect the sculpture, a signature piece of the Getty's collection, was looted from the countryside near the southeastern Italian town of Foggia. Photographs seized in the raid of Medici's warehouse office show the sculpture in the trunk of a car. The sculpture is one of the 26 objects that the Getty had originally agreed to return.
Status: The Getty will transfer the sculpture to Italy; the exact date will be determined in the next several months.
Statue of a victorious youth, 300-100 B.C.
This bronze sculpture depicts a young athlete crowning himself with an olive wreath, the prize for a victor in the Olympic Games. The sculpture comes from the remains of a Roman shipwreck dating to sometime between 100 B.C. and A.D. 100. The vessel sank while carrying the statue from its original location in Greece. Caught in the nets of a fishing trawler in the Adriatic off the coast of Italy in 1964, it is one of the few life-size Greek bronzes to have survived.
The Getty maintains that because the sculpture was discovered in international waters it is not subject to Italian claims, while Italy insists that the bronze came under its jurisdiction when it was brought ashore. The stalemate over this statue has been the biggest obstacle to the Getty and Italy reaching a comprehensive repatriation agreement.
Status: On display at the Getty Villa. This statue is not among the 40 objects that the Getty has agreed to transfer to Italy. It will be the subject of future discussions, pending legal proceedings in Italy regarding how it wound up there in the 1960s.
Gold wreath, 4th century B.C
This funerary wreath of gold leaves decorated with blue and green glass paste was buried in an elite Macedonian tomb in northern Greece sometime not long after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. In 1990, a farmer excavated the grave and sold his finds to antiquities smugglers.
Getty curator Marion True purchased the wreath in 1993 from Swiss dealer Christoph Leon. According to internal museum documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times, after first seeing the wreath in a Zurich vault, True wrote Leon that the piece was "too dangerous" for the Getty to consider buying. Six months later, True had a change of heart and purchased the rare artifact.
Status: The Getty returned this wreath to Greece. It is on display at the National Archaeological Museum, Athens.