Italy’s handling of Getty Museum case spurs Greece’s efforts to repatriate antiquities

The Greek government is carefully, though firmly, trying to negotiate the return of four archaeological relics that are now part of the collection at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The artifacts include a golden funerary wreath from Macedonia, an inscribed tombstone, a marble torso of a young woman, and a votive relief stolen from an archaeological site on the island of Thasos. The artifacts are considered among the most prized in the Getty’s collection. Italy’s example The situation regarding these Greek artifacts gained urgency after Italian authorities gathered enough evidence to prosecute Marion True, the Getty’s former chief antiquities curator, who resigned in October after an investigation into her dealings by the Los Angeles Times. The mobilization of Italian authorities to secure the return of their stolen artifacts also spurred authorities in Greece to lean on the Getty, after years of diplomatic negotiations between the country and the museum had failed. The Italians, meanwhile, have managed also to secure the return of stolen artifacts on display at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Met chief Philippe de Montebello and Italian Culture Ministry officials signed a deal to return the artifacts in exchange for long-term loans of other items. The Greek Ministry of Culture has sent official letters to the management of the Getty, which have received no response, but the process to bring back the relics continues. But the Getty case provoked international interest in antiquities trafficking and has renewed efforts to repatriate stolen items – something which greatly affects Greece, which has received attention primarily for high-profile cases like the return of the Parthenon Marbles from Great Britain.

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