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Getty museum vows to fight Italy court decision on prized statue

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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.

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“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.

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“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’ –

GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File / Stefanie Keenan The Getty Villa on October 11, 2018

The Getty, however, said it was not ready to surrender the relic.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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China accused of using Twitter, Facebook against HK protests

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Twitter and Facebook said Monday they had uncovered a campaign by China to use the social media platforms against pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

"We are disclosing a significant state-backed information operation focused on the situation in Hong Kong, specifically the protest movement and their calls for political change," Twitter said in an online post.

Facebook said a tip from Twitter led to the removal of a network of pages, groups and accounts originating in China and involved in "coordinated inauthentic behavior" focusing on Hong Kong.

Twitter said it suspended 936 accounts that originated in China.

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‘The election could be over before any votes are cast’: AP reporter breaks down Trump’s recession fears

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President Donald Trump's re-election campaign could be destroyed by a recession before a single vote is cast, an Associated Press reporter explained on MSNBC's "Deadline: White House" on Monday.

Guest host John Heilemann read a quote from AP White House correspondent Jonathan Lemire.

"[P]rivately, Trump is growing increasingly worried the economy won’t look so good come Election Day. ... Though a pre-election recession here is far from certain, a downturn would be a devastating blow to the president, who has made a strong economy his central argument for a second term," Lemire reported. "And White House economic advisers see few options for reversing course should the economy start to slip."

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‘No comment’: Emails show the VA took no action to spare veterans from a harsh Trump immigration policy

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The VA’s approach differs sharply from the Pentagon’s, which won an exemption for active-duty members of the military.

Top officials of the Department of Veterans Affairs declined to step in to try to exempt veterans and their families from a new immigration rule that would make it far easier to deny green cards to low-income immigrants, according to documents obtained by ProPublica under a Freedom of Information Act request.

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