War Of The Victorious Youth

War Of The Victorious Youth

The idyllic Greek statue  found in the open waters of the Adriatic Sea in 1964 by Italian fishermen is currently housed in the Getty Villa  in Los Angeles, but an intense dispute has erupted about which country is the rightful home for the Getty Bronze.

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An Italian court ruled this month that ownership is in the hands of Italy, and should return there. However, in an extended legal battle over the statue known as “Statue of a Victorious Youth,” is only gaining more traction, even after nearly 10 years of litigation. The Getty has labeled the statue, created by Lysippus, the renowned Greek sculptor and dated to roughly 300 to 100 B.C. “priceless.” 

The Getty has official stated that it will not be deterred by the most recent ruling and plans to file another appeal with the Court of Cassation. Ron Hartwig, a spokesman for the Getty stated that “We are disappointed in the ruling…but we will continue to defend our legal right to the statue. The facts in this case do not warrant restitution of the object to Italy.”

Its American home suggests that it had likely been carried out of Greece by Romans and that the ship was lost at sea. The fishermen later sold it, and it was shipped out of the country, eventually landing in ownership of the The Getty Trust in 1977 for $3.95 million. The heart of the legal conflict is derived from a 1939 Italian law that says Italy owns any antiquity discovered on its territory, but The Getty is adamant that the discovery in the sea puts it outside Italy’s jurisdiction. In 1989, the Italian government asked the Getty to return the statue, and in 2007, when the Italian cultural ministry struck a deal with the Getty Trust to return more than 40 pieces to Greece and Italy because of questions regarding provenance.

Italy sought “Victorious Youth” as part of a deal, and in 2010, an Italian court demanded the statue be seized in a case where the question of whether the Getty Trust had done its proper due diligence before acquiring the statue followed by The Getty Trust appealing to the regional court, which then upheld the decision in 2012. After several more hearings and appeals, it was ruled by the regional court that The Getty must return the bronze.

Alberto Bonisoli, the Italian culture minister, has stated that a request would be made to the United States government to seize the statue from The Getty if the Court of Cassation rules in favor of Italy.


We hope you've enjoyed learning about the ongoing War Of The Victorious Youth! Whose side are you on in this battle royal for the coveted statue? Join the conversation below!