The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles voluntarily returned to the Italian authorities a marble 29-inch-high statuette of “Zeus Enthroned” dating to the 1st century BC.
Italian authorities launched an investigation in 2012, when a group of archaeologists found a piece of the throne on the seabed off the island of Capri, near Naples. Following several evaluations and inspections, the Italian Archaeological Superintendence determined that the fragment was part of the statuette on permanent display in Los Angeles, which also appears to have spent a lot of time in the sea, as it is partially covered with marine incrustations. “The fragment gave every indication that it was a part of the sculpture we had,” Getty Museum Director Timothy Potts said “It came from the general region of Naples, so it meant this object had come from there.” This, coupled with the fact that there was no documentation of export, led to the decision to repatriate the statuette.
In 1992, the museum’s senior antiquities curator was Marion True, who was later indicted by the Italian government for conspiracy to traffic in illegal antiquities, acquired purchased “Zeus Enthroned” for The Getty from Americans Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman. True resigned from the museum in 2005, and in 2007 then-director Michael Brand announced the museum would return a number of disputed objects to Italy. However, prosecutors did not pursue the case against True.
Potts statement stated that “The Getty greatly values its relationships with Italian colleagues in museums and other cultural sectors” and its policy is that when a foreign government submits compelling evidence that an object in its collection was put on the antiquities market illegally, the museum will seek to return the object.
Ilona Catani Scarlett