A US museum has vowed to fight a decision by Italy’s highest court which this week ordered that a prized bronze statue at the center of an epic legal dispute be returned to Italy.
In a statement, the J. Paul Getty Museum said the more than 2,000-year-old statue named “Victorious Youth” was found in international waters in 1964 and was legally purchased by the museum in 1977.
“We will continue to defend our legal right to the statue,” Lisa Lapin, vice president for communications at the Getty Trust, said in a statement issued on Monday.
“The law and facts in this case do not warrant restitution to the Italian government of a statue that has been on public display in Los Angeles for nearly a half century.”
She added that any forfeiture order “is contrary to American and International law.”
The decision handed down on Monday by Italy’s supreme court came after a decade-long legal battle over the sculpture, also known as the Getty Bronze or by the name of its presumed sculptor Lysippos, one of the most prized antiquities on display at the Getty Villa, located on the outskirts of Los Angeles.
“Now we hope the US authorities will act as soon as possible to favor restitution of the Lysippos to Italy,” Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli told the ANSA news agency following the court’s decision.
– ‘Final word from Italy’ –
The Getty, however, said it was not ready to surrender the relic.
Lapin said the museum had extensively researched the origins of the prized statue before purchasing it from an antiques dealer in Germany for $3.95 million, years after Italy’s highest court had concluded there was no evidence the object belonged to Italy.
“The statue is not and has never been part of Italy’s cultural heritage,” Lapin said. “Accidental discovery by Italian citizens does not make the statue an Italian object.
“Found outside the territory of any modern state, and immersed in the sea for two millennia, the Bronze has only a fleeting and incidental connection with Italy.”
Italian officials dispute Getty’s arguments and maintain that the life-size statue was found off Italy’s Adriatic coast by Italian fishermen and as such rightfully belongs to the state.
They say the statue was sold to an Italian art dealer after its discovery and was subsequently sold several times before it was smuggled illegally out of the country and eventually purchased by the Getty.
Last June, a judge in Pesaro, a coastal town on the Adriatic Coast, ruled that the statue be confiscated. The Getty museum had appealed the decision and Italy’s supreme court rejected the appeal on Monday.
Pesaro prosecutor Silvia Cecchi told local media that the court’s decision “was the final word from the Italian justice” system and that the statue must be returned.
“It must be very clear that the order is effective immediately and we will apply this principle by notifying the American authorities,” Cecchi said.
In 2007, following long negotiations, The Getty agreed to return more than 40 works of art to Italy after questions were raised about their provenance.
WATCH: Saturday Night Live airs Christmas special — that’s just one giant dig at the Electoral College
NBC's "Saturday Night Live" aired an opening skit that was just one giant attack on the electoral college.
A snowman introduced the segment, saying that we could look in on the holiday table conversation thanks to hacked Nest cams.
The skit featured a house in San Francisco, California, a second in Charleston, South Carolina and a third in Atlanta, Georgia.
Each dinner table debated impeachment, and the differences between President Donald Trump and his predecessor, President Barack Obama.
But then the snowman said that none of their votes matter.
"They'll debate the issues all year long, but then it all comes down to 1,000 people in Wisconsin who won't even think about the election until the morning of," the snowman said. "And that's the magic of the Electoral College."
Georgia mayor being recalled for racism resigns from office: report
Hoschton Mayor Theresa Kenerly resigned in a special city council meeting held on Saturday, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported Saturday.
"The resignation came just days after Councilman Jim Cleveland resigned saying he‘d rather leave office on his own terms than face voters in a recall election next month," the newspaper reported. "Both resignations follow an AJC investigation launched seven months ago into claims that an African American candidate for city administrator was sidetracked by Mayor Theresa Kenerly because of his race."
Nine 2020 Democrats unite to demand DNC Chair Tom Perez scrap debate rules: report
The Democratic National Committee is facing a revolt for the party's 2020 presidential candidates for its restrictive debate rules.
"Nine Democratic presidential candidates, including the party's front-runners, are urging the Democratic National Committee to toss out the current polling and fundraising rules used to determine who appears in televised debates and reopen the exchanges to better reflect the historic diversity of the current field. The candidates say the rules exclude diverse candidates in the field from participating," CBS News reported Saturday evening.