ROME — The Lysippus will return to Italy.

The statue portrays a victorious, naked and full-sized athlete and is attributed to the proto-Hellenistic sculptor Lysippus. Bought in 1977, the statue is currently on exhibit at the Getty Museum in Malibu, California.

The story of this ancient statue is complicated. From the Greek mainland the Athlete, for mysterious reasons, ended up in the sea and was pulled out of the water in 1964 off Fano by fishermen who found it entangled in their nets. Carried to shore, the ship owner buried the statue to hide it from customs officers. Sold for three million Lire to an antique dealer from Gubbio, the Athlete exchanged hands many times between Milan, Brazil and Munich and was eventually bought by the museum in California.

Francesco Rutelli, Minister of National Heritage for the last Prodi government, had entered an agreement in September 2007 with the Getty Museum, allowing dozens of masterpieces to return to Italy. At the end of that year, for example, the Venus of Morgantina was returned to Sicily.

In 2007, the Getty Museum returned many works of art, but not the Athlete. In recent days a judge decided that the Lysippus to must return to the country where it was found.

About The Author

Blast correspondent Luna Moltedo is an Italian art expert and journalist based in Rome

4 Responses

  1. no more returns

    Italy has been granted enough, they are using these cultural objects as a political tool. Let the Getty keep its prize. The world should benefit from great works of art, and we should not have to go to Italy to see a Greek statue!

  2. Luna Moltedo

    You are right and I would agree with you on the idea of distribution of works of art in the world but not in this case because it is a robbery then it is illegal ….

  3. Beckaroo

    If all the art in all the museums in the world was returned to it’s genetic beginnings by country, no one would know or appreciate anything except art born from their own country… and only rich people that can afford to travel the world would know of it. If the Getty has to give this back then all museum collections — Elgin marbles, Egyptian mummies, Aztec and Mayan art forms, etc., should go back to their origin countries and we can all live within our own geographical borders devoid of appreciation for the rest of the world’s art. A sharing of work with the origin countries for term exhibits, learning, and youth/scholar study and appreciation is a much better solution. You really think this one should return but not all the others? You really think MOST antiquity art does not have surreptitious or gray areas of handling paths at some point in it’s existence? Is Italy going to pay the Getty back for it’s investment if it does return? I worked at the Getty for 10 years and this item is not going to be a slam-dunk return. You can bet on it.

  4. Luna Moltedo

    Hi!First of all I’m a journalist so I write news not my opinion.If you read carefully the article you can understand why Getty Museum has to return back the Lysippus to Italy.It’s a quite complicated history.
    Also we are not in the colonial era or Napoleon,fortunately there are laws to protect works of art and archaeological.
    Moreover there is a UNESCO law after 1970—>
    To conclude the discussion I express my personal opinion. I agree with you, as I already wrote in the previous comment, that is a great thing share art and archeological finds.But I believe that the sharing of works of art is democratic when it is protected by law.


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