Renowned U.S. museum to return illegally excavated works of art to Italy

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- The J. Paul Getty Museum, one of the largest art museums in the U.S. state of California, is returning several works of art that were illegally excavated to Italy.

The world-renowned museum, housed on two campuses: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and Getty Villa in Malibu, said in a news release posted on its website Thursday that it is working with the Italian Ministry of Culture to arrange the return of "Orpheus and the Sirens," a life-size terracotta sculpture group, in September, followed by other artwork at a later date.

"In accordance with Getty's policy of returning objects to their country of origin or country of modern discovery when reliable information indicates that they were stolen or illegally excavated, the Museum has removed the objects from public view and is preparing them for transport to Rome in September, where they will join collections to be designated by the Ministry of Culture," the news release noted.

"Thanks to information provided by Matthew Bogdanos and the Antiquities Trafficking Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office indicating the illegal excavation of Orpheus and the Sirens, we determined that these objects should be returned," Timothy Potts, Maria Hummer-Tuttle and Robert Tuttle Director of the Getty Museum, said in the news release.

The museum pointed out that the extreme fragility of Orpheus and the Sirens requires specially tailored equipment and procedures.

The Orpheus group of sculptures is an incredibly important work to the Getty. It has been on view, in a ground floor gallery at the Getty Villa, since it was acquired more than four decades ago, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The other objects that will be returned to Italy at a date to be determined include a second-century AD colossal marble head of a divinity; a second-century AD stone mold for casting pendants; an oil painting entitled Oracle at Delphi, 1881, by Camillo Miola; and a fourth-century BC Etruscan bronze thymiaterion. The first three of these objects were acquired by J. Paul Getty and the Getty Museum in the 1970s; the fourth in 1996. None of these objects have been on public view in recent years, according to the museum.

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