|The 2,000-year-old Victorious Youth sculpture, commonly known as the Getty Bronze. [Credit: Getty]|
ROME — "The court's order is flawed both procedurally and substantively," said the Getty after Thursday's ruling by an Italian judge ordering the museum to repatriate its Victorious Youth sculpture.
The priceless bronze statue was bought by the J. Paul Getty Museum for nearly four million dollars at an auction in 1974. But Judge Lorena Mussoni of Pesaro ordered its confiscation in a 37-page judgment asserting the artifact belonged to Italy's cultural heritage and was thus not for sale.
Commonly referred to as the Getty Bronze, the sculpture is dated between 300 and 100 B.C. and is considered one of the greatest to survive from ancient Greece. The lifesize statue was found in the sea off the Adriatic coast of Italy in 1964; prosecutors allege that it was smuggled out of the country and that the Getty knew its provenance was illicit.
Former culture minister Francesco Rutelli, who spearheaded Italy's efforts to recover the work, said Thursday's verdict was of "historic importance, ending the era of looting our archaeological heritage." The Getty said it would "vigorously defend" its ownership of the statue and adamantly denies any wrongdoing.