One rule for the Getty, another for Italy?

We asked Italia Nostra if their opposition to restitution of the sculpture was hypocritical in the light of Italy’s campaign to obtain antiquities from museums in the US, most notably the Getty, Metropolitan, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A spokeswoman for the conservation organisation said: “The statue of Venus was not stolen by the Italians but discovered by chance in Cyrene which was then under Italian rule…the works Italy wants returned from the Getty Museum were illegally excavated, exported in violation of the 1939 law [under a 1939 Italian law, all archaeological property excavated in Italy belongs to the Italian state] and acquired in an illegal way. The Venus is not comparable. It’s like asking for the restitution of works from the Louvre taken from Italy by Napoleon.”

In 2005, Italy returned to Ethiopia a second-century BC stelae which had been removed from a Christian cemetery at Axum by Mussolini’s troops in 1937. The Italian government had first agreed to return the obelisk in 1947.

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~ by suntravel on July 27, 2007.

 
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