Getty Museum in LA to return illegally exported art to Italy

The Getty will return a near life-size group of Greek terracotta sculptures known as Orpheus And The Sirens, thought to date from the fourth century.

Getty Museum in LA to return illegally exported art to Italy

The J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles is returning ancient sculptures and other works of art that were illegally exported from Italy, the museum has announced.

The Getty will return a nearly life-size group of Greek terracotta sculptures known as Orpheus And The Sirens, believed to date from the fourth century BC, according to the museum.

The sculpture group was purchased by J Paul Getty in 1976 shortly before his death and had been on display for decades.

Orpheus And The Sirens will be returned to Italy, said the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles (Alamy/PA)

However, the museum now believes they were illegally excavated and taken out of Italy, based on evidence uncovered by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, the Getty said in a statement.

“It’s just extremely rare and there’s nothing similar in our collection, or closely similar in any collection,” Getty Museum director Timothy Potts told the Los Angeles Times.

“It does leave a hole in our gallery but with this evidence that came forth, there was no question that it needed to be sent back to Italy.”

The fragile sculptures will be sent to Rome in September to join collections designated by the Italian Ministry of Culture, the Getty said.

The museum also is working with the Ministry of Culture to arrange the return of four other objects at a future date.

Those include a “colossal marble head of a divinity” and a stone mould for casting pendants, both from the second century AD, along with an Etruscan bronze incense burner from the fourth century BC and a 19th century painting by Camillo Miola entitled Oracle At Delphi, the Getty said.

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