December 12, 2006

More on the latest Getty restitution agreement

Posted at 2:44 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

Further coverage of the Getty’s agreement to return a gold wreath to Greece following eleven years of requests.

The Scotsman

Mon 11 Dec 2006
Getty returns more antiquities to Greece to end row
By Karolos Grohmann

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece on Monday declared an end to an 11-year dispute with the J.P. Getty Museum on Monday after the U.S. institution agreed to return two ancient artefacts.

In a joint statement released simultaneously in Athens and Los Angeles, the Getty, among the world’s richest museums, will return a spectacular 4th century BC Macedonian gold funerary wreath and a 6th century BC marble “kori” statue of a woman.

The objects are the final two in a list of four objects owned by the Getty that Greece has long said were the result of illegal excavation and smuggling.

“We are pleased to announce today we have reached an agreement in principle on the return of two objects in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum – a gold funerary wreath and a statue of a kore – that have been claimed by the Hellenic Republic Ministry of Culture,” the two sides said in the statement.

This is the second batch of ancient artefacts, once part of the Getty’s priceless collection, that have been handed back to Greece. The date of their return to Athens has not yet been determined.

All objects were smuggled out of the country before the Getty, under its former antiquities curator Marion True who faces criminal charges in Italy and Greece, purchased them.

The Getty has been at the centre of an international art smuggling scandal since Italy and Greece charged True with conspiring to receive stolen goods.

A 2,400-year-old, black limestone stele – grave marker – and a marble votive relief dating from about 490 BC were returned in August as the first instalment of the deal.

“The way we got the objects back from the Getty was a very good example of how the country can have such objects returned,” Greek Culture Minister George Voulgarakis told reporters.

He said since the dispute with the American museum, that had acted “rationally” had now ended, Athens would seek to cooperate with the institution in the form of joint exhibitions or long-term leases of objects.

Voulgarakis said Greece was not interested in emptying museums’ shelves, but it would seek to get back all that was illegally removed and smuggled out of the country.

“We consider this a crime equal to gun smuggling and human trafficking,” Voulgarakis said. “We are not interested in attacking museums but we do not want to have antiquities leave Greece illegally.”

He said at least three other cases were ongoing involving foreign museums but did not want to give any further details.

“Let me just say that we are not joking,” Voulgarakis said. “Whatever is ours we will fight to get it back.”

Greece’s most famous antiquities dispute continues to be its quest for the return of a collection of marble sculptures taken from the Parthenon by a former British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Lord Elgin acquired his collection between 1801 and 1810. It was bought by the British Museum in 1816 and has been a major attraction there since.

(c) Reuters 2006. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.

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Last updated: 11-Dec-06 14:56 GMT

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