August 31, 2006
Further coverage of the return of two artefacts from the Getty to Athens & the imminent return of a fragment of the Parthenon frieze held by Heidelberg University.
This is a Reuters syndicated article which appeared in many newspapers around the world.
Getty-owned antiquities return home to Greece
By Karolos Grohmann
Thursday, August 31, 2006; 12:19 PM
ATHENS (Reuters) – Two ancient Greek artefacts, which were smuggled out of the country, came home on Thursday as part of an agreement with the J. Paul Getty Museum.
A 2,400-year-old, black limestone stele – grave marker – and a marble votive relief dating from about 490 BC went on display at Athens’ National Archaeological Museum only hours after being flown back from Los Angeles.
They are the first installment of a deal to send back works of ancient art that were stolen from Greece and eventually bought by one of the world’s richest art institutions.
The stele was unearthed during an illegal dig in the 1990s near the city of Thebes while the votive relief was stolen almost a century ago from the French Archaeological School warehouse on the Aegean island of Thasos.
Both will briefly be displayed in Athens before returning to the locations where they were found, the minister said.
“The days when foreign museums and private collectors uncontrollably bought antiquities without any identity or passport have gone for good,” Greek Culture Minister George Voulgarakis, standing before the objects, told reporters.
The Getty has been at the center of an international art smuggling scandal since Italian authorities charged its former antiquities curator Marion True with conspiring to receive stolen goods.
Voulgarakis said negotiations with the Getty were in progress for the return of another two items, a 4th century BC Macedonian gold funerary wreath and a 6th century BC marble “kori” statue of a woman.
In return, the museum will receive other artefacts on long-term loan and will be able to co-host exhibitions of ancient Greek art.
“Greece will fight for the return from foreign museums and collectors of every ancient Greek object for which we have evidence that it is a product of illegal digging, smuggling or illegal trade,” Voulgarakis said.
True, who also faces a judicial investigation in Greece, will stand trial in Italy and has since resigned from the Getty. She has denied any wrongdoing.
Voulgarakis will fly to Germany later this week to take back a piece of marble from Athens’s Parthenon Temple, currently held by Heidelberg University.
“We do not want to empty the shelves of foreign museums. We want Greek antiquities to continue being ambassadors of our country around the world,” he said. “But the antiquities trade must abide by ethical codes and legal rules.”
- More on the latest Getty restitution agreement : December 12, 2006
- Could the Getty’s Greek artefact return hasten the restitution of the Elgin Marbles? : March 30, 2007
- Will the Elgin Marbles be the next Greek antiquities to be returned? : April 7, 2007
- Getty returns two looted artefacts to Athens : September 2, 2006
- Greece puts pressure on Britain to return Elgin Marbles : March 31, 2007
- Returned artefacts from Getty on display in Greece : August 31, 2006
- Greece demands return of stolen heritage : July 12, 2006
- Exhibition about looted Greek antiquities : September 15, 2006