About the Author
Neil Brodie is Director of Cultural Heritage Resource, Stanford University Archaeology Center
Getty Museum returns to Italy (1999)
On February 5, 1999, the J. Paul Getty Museum returned three artifacts to Italy:
Fifth-century BC Attic red-figured cup, signed by Euphronios as potter and painted by Onesimos with scenes of the Trojan War (83.AE.362). The Getty started acquiring fragments of this cup in the 1980s, paying $180,000 in 1983 for pieces comprising approximately 40 percent of the whole. It was still not complete when it was published in 1991 by Dyfri Williams, who reported that he had seen a photograph of a missing fragment comprising three pieces (Williams 1991: 61). The original of this photograph was found in the possession of the Italian dealer Giacomo Medici when Carabinieri raided his Geneva storerooms in 1997 (Watson 1998). It was part of a photographic archive that also contained photographs of fragments that the Getty did own, showing that they had passed through Medici’s hands. Medici was convicted in December 2004 of receiving and illegally exporting stolen antiquities. As part of the investigation the Getty supplied the Italian authorities with documentation showing that pieces of the cup had been bought at different times from Frieda Tchachos-Nussberger, of Galerie Nefer in Zurich, who said in turn that she had bought it from Nino Savoca in Munich; from the Schweitzer collection of Arlesheim; and from the Geneva Hydra Gallery, under the proprietorship of Christian Boursaud , which was thought to have been a “front” for Medici. Thus although Medici was the ultimate source of the fragmentary cup, which is now thought to have been looted from the Etruscan cemetery of Cerveteri, he had not dealt directly with the Getty (Watson and Todeschini 2006, 92-95).
Second-century AD copy of a head of Diadoumenos by Polykleitos. This piece was acquired by the Getty in 1995 as part of the Fleischman Collection (True and Hamma 1994, no. 180, 341-4). It was later discovered to have been stolen from the excavation storeroom at Venosa (Lee 1999).
The torso of a second-century AD statue of the god Mithra (82.AA.74). This piece was bought from an unnamed European dealer. It was discovered to be part of a statue that had been stolen from the Italian Giustiniani Collection. It seems that after the theft the statue had been broken up for sale (Lee 1999).
Lee, D. 1999. “Getty returns three stolen works”, Art Newspaper no. 90, 1, 3.
True, M. and K. Hamma (eds) 1994. A Passion for Antiquities. Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman. Malibu: J.P. Getty Museum.
Watson, P. 1998. “The sequestered warehouses”, Culture Without Context no. 2, 11-14.
Watson, P. and C. Todeschini 2006. The Medici Conspiracy. New York, Public Affairs.
Williams, D. 1991. “Onesimos and the Getty Iliupersis”, in M. True (ed.), Greek Vases in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Volume 5. (Occasional Papers in Antiquities, 7). Malibu: J.P. Getty Museum.