Pesaro

Magistrates demand Lysippus statue from Getty

Order to seize the bronze becomes executive

Magistrates demand Lysippus statue from Getty

Pesaro, June 15 - Prosecutors have announced that an order issued last week to seize an ancient Greek statue for years disputed by Italy and the Getty Museum in Malibu is "immediately executive". "The Lysippus statue must return to Italy," prosecutors told ANSA on Thursday, accompanied by Tristano Tonnini, the lawyer for the association "Cento Città", which has been fighting the legal battle for 11 years. "We expect politicians to play their part," they said. The Italian judge rejected an appeal by the Getty Museum, ruling that the fourth-century BC Greek statue - known as Lysippus after its creator and fished out of the sea off Pesaro in 1964 - must be seized wherever in the world it is. Commonly referred to as the Getty Bronze and formally named Statue of a Victorious Youth, the statue is one of the best-known works in the Los Angeles-based museum. The Lysippus has been contested ever since the Getty bought it for almost four million dollars in 1977 from German art dealer Herman Heinz Herzer, paying nearly 800 times the $5,600 that Italian dealers paid the fishermen for it in 1964. Italy has long claimed the statue was smuggled out of the country and has demanded that the Getty hand it back. Lawyer Tonnini said he was satisfied by the judge's ruling, but said he is also convinced that "the California museum always knew that it was buying a smuggled and illegally exported artifact". Pesaro prosecutor Cristina Tedeschini said she expects the case will go to the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation. "But the fact is that three different judges have reaffirmed that the statue belongs to the Italian state and that it must be given back," Tedeschini said. In November 2007, a court in Fano, near Pesaro, cleared the Getty Museum of wrongdoing in the case. But on Thursday, prosecutor Silvia Cecchi said the judge "affirmed that the statue was taken in Italian national waters and therefore belongs to Italy," which has been the sustained argument since 2007 to get the statue back. "It must be very clear that the order is immediately executive and we will apply this principle by notifying the American authorities," Cecchi said. On Friday the Getty said it would lodge an appeal at the Cassation Court to "defend our rights".

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