Showing posts with label the Getty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the Getty. Show all posts

February 28, 2013

Boston's MFA's Provenance Curator Victoria Reed Lecturing Tonight at The Getty Center "Tales from an Art Detective: The Eventful Lives of Art Objects"

Victoria Reed, Monica S. Adler Assistant Curator for Provenance at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is speaking tonight at the Getty Center in Los Angeles on her work examining the ownership history of objects and the art-museum's policy and practice today.

Ms. Reed has been featured on the ARCA Blog previously: here in April 2011 as a panelist at a World War II Provenance Research Seminar; here in June 2011 regarding the MFA's settlement to keep Eglon van der Neer's painting, Portrait of a Man and a Woman; and here last summer in a post by Virginia Curry regarding a lecture to students at the Stonehill Art Symposium.

May 7, 2012

The Getty should return the Fano Athlete to Italy, Judge rules

Governor Spacca and an image of the
 Fano Athlete at a press conference
 in LA last year
Jason Felch, who has been covering this story since 2006, reported for The Los Angeles Times that on May 3 a judge in Marche confirmed that the J. Paul Getty Museum should return the Fano Athlete to the country from which it was illegally exported.

Felch, co-author of Chasing Aphrodite, posted the judge's ruling on his website here.

On the blog Looting Matters, David Gill encourages The Getty to cooperate before additional legal steps reveal more problems. Gill also provides an overview of the 'collecting history' and Italy's years long political fight on his blog here.

This is the victory Governor Spacca of Marche spoke of when he visited the Getty in March 2011 in an attempt to negotiate a friendly resolution (reported here and here on the ARCA blog).

May 25, 2011

Chasing Aphrodite Reviewed

 "Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 375 pp).

Jason Felch &
Ralph Frammolino

Disputes over works of art and antiquities take many forms. Nations and individuals with claims to cultural objects pursue their claims in a number of areas; only seldom are these battles seen in courts of law. As a consequence many of the precedents set for party’s actions are seen outside the public view. This underscores the terrific resource which Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino have created with their new book, officially released this week.

Their terrific series of investigative reports for the Los Angeles Times served as the jumping off point for the work. That series of articles was a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize and helped me crystallize much of my thinking about the antiquities trade and the role of art museums. Those reports, though terrific, were limited by the length of a newspaper article, and the authors continued their reporting in the form of this work to allow the space to explore these issues. In so doing they have created what will stand as the definitive account of the troubled times at the Getty from its creation in the 1970s through 2007. The book takes the form of a straightforward and rigorous account of the events which led to first the creation of the wealthiest art-acquiring institution in the world, its unfortunate choices, and its painful public shaming.

The authors maintain their reporters tone, which serves the material well. I think partisans on both sides of the heritage debates will find much to admire in the consistent and accurate depiction of characters and events. One point for which the authors deserve high marks is their description of the laws at issue—they swiftly and accurately describe the complex network of U.S., Italian and International laws without letting it overwhelm the story they are telling. There are also references and notes for further readings. The book maintains a lively and direct style throughout. I was provided an electronic copy of the work, which had no page numbers, so I am unable to reference the quotations below.

April 1, 2011

Upcoming Book: "Chasing Aphrodite" to be Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on May 24

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

While covering the Getty's relationship with cultural property this week ("The Getty Bronze" and the Region of Marche"), I appreciated the excellent coverage on the same subject in the Los Angeles Times by Jason Felch who, with another journalist, Ralph Frammolino, is publishing a book next month, Chasing Aphrodite, subtitled "The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum". Attitudes toward the collecting of antiquities have evolved in the past four decades since UNESCO's 1970 Convention which asked that museums and governments stop the purchasing of looted antiquities and ask more about the provenance and context of objects, but controversy has always reigned and The Getty, a resourceful and powerful entity, in addition to being a worldwide leader in conservation, has also a murky history in regards to part of its collection which changed its leadership in the past few years.

The book, the product of five years of investigative reporting, which can be pre-ordered now through here, comes out on May 24 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Felch and Frammolino tells the story of how officials of the J. Paul Getty Museum grappled with the question of acquiring looted Greek and Roman antiquities over 30 years, and the eventual indictment of the Getty's antiquities curator in 2005,' according to the press release. [Marion True, the indicted Getty official, had the charges dropped against her last year in Italy as the court case had dragged on for too long.]

Advance praise of the book includes a comment from Ulrich Boser, author of The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft, and Jonathan Harr, author of The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece.
"A thrilling, well-researched book that offers readers a glimpse into the back-room dealings of a world-class museum--and the illegal trade of looted antiquities. Chasing Aphrodite should not be missed,” Boser wrote.
“An astonishing and penetrating look into a veiled world where beauty and art are in constant competition with greed and hypocrisy. This engaging book will cast a fresh light on many of those gleaming objects you see in art museums,” Harr wrote.
You may follow the book on Facebook or Twitter.

March 29, 2011

Press Release Prepared by Lana Rushing on Behalf of the Governor of Marche Region, Italy: "Italy to Getty: We're Not Here to Declare War!"

Governor Spacca at the press conference in Century City
This is the press release prepared by Lana Rushing of Rushing PR on behalf of the Governor of Marche Region, Italy. You may find it as informative as I did.

Italy to Getty: We’re Not Here to Declare War!

Top Italian Official Offers Innovative Peace Treaty to Resolve Long-Raging Battle with World’s Richest Museum; Share Custody of Stolen “Victorious Youth” Bronze Statue - or Risk Losing it to Italy Forever

Governor of antiquities-rich Marche Region Implores Getty: “Act Like a World-Class Cultural Institution and Behave Ethically”

Los Angeles – A senior Italian government official today offered an innovative peace treaty in an historic antiquities battle with the J. Paul Getty Museum, imploring the world’s richest cultural institution to “behave ethically” by returning knowingly looted art to its homeland – or risk losing it forever.

“We have not come to declare war on the Getty,” said Gian Mario Spacca, the Governor of Italy’s Marche Region on the Adriatic Sea – one of the richest sources of archeological antiquities and Renaissance era works of art. “We are here to try to' resolve the dispute in a way that will benefit this great museum, the people of Italy – and, most important, art lovers around the world."

Speaking at a news conference in Los Angeles, the Governor unveiled a novel “cultural exchange” proposal to share custody of the 2,300-year-old bronze statue “Victorious Youth” (also known as the “Athlete of Fano”), a nearly five-foot antiquity sculpted by the Greek artist Lisippo. The antiquity mysteriously arrived at the Getty in 1974 and was displayed to great fanfare. It was showcased as “The Getty Bronze”.

The Bronze is one of several star attractions at the Getty, including the iconic seven-foot marble and limestone “Aphrodite” which Italian police escorted home last week following a long-raging legal fight with the museum. Italy says its rare antiquities had been buried for centuries and discovered by unsuspecting citizens who sold them at a fraction of their worth to art thieves - and then purchased by the prestigious Los Angeles-based museum without legitimate historical ownership credentials. The antiquities were showcased over the past several decades to build the Getty’s reputation as a global cultural force.

The Getty’s previous curator of antiquities, Marion True, was indicted in Italy in 2005 (along with famed art dealer Robert Hecht Jr.) on criminal charges of trafficking in stolen antiquities.

“The Italian people expect a museum as prestigious as the Getty should not be trafficking in illegal art. Further, the Getty should show the world it can act like a world-class cultural institution and behave ethically,” Governor Spacca told reporters today in unveiling his proposal.

Governor Spacca characterized his proposal as a significant proactive effort to break the deadlock in the Getty stolen-art conflict and speed a resolution after decades of failed negotiations and legal wrangling.

In a separate action, the legal dispute is expected to be decided by an Italian high court later this week following multiple failed appeals by the museum, which continues to assert its legal ownership of the “Victorious Youth”. A final ownership ruling favoring Italy, could subject the priceless Bronze to the same fate as “Aphrodite,” which was one of the leading attractions at the Getty until its confiscation by Italy earlier this month.

“The Victorious Youth” by Lisippo is a very important testimonial for the Italian culture. It is of great interest for Marche to have the statue returned to Fano, from where it disappeared years ago,” said Governor Spacca.

The “Victorious Youth” was discovered by fishermen in 1964 and sold for $1600 to an art dealer. The whereabouts of the statue were shrouded in mystery until the Getty purchased it for about $3.9 million and put it on display 37 years ago.

March 28, 2011

"The Getty Bronze" and the Region of Marche: In the shadow of a pending court case in Italy, officials from Marche visit Los Angeles, meet with the Getty, and hold a press conference to underscore their desire for a 'cultural relationship' between Los Angeles and Marche

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, Editor

CENTURY CITY - 'Governor' Gian Mario Spacca, president of the Marche region of Italy, held a press conference this morning to discuss his proposal to the Getty Museum for a cultural relationship between the institution which owns the "Getty Bronze" and the region from which it was fished out of the ocean almost six decades ago, weeks before an Italian judge reaches a decision about the status of the 'Victorious Youth', known in the Adriatic region as 'Atleta di Fano.'

Governor Spaaca & "The Athlete of Fano"
Spacca said that the purpose of his trip was not to fight with the Getty Museum, but to establish cooperation 'on universal values such as culture', he said through an interpreter at a conference room in the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City on the westside of Los Angeles, just 12 miles from where the Greek statue resides today in Malibu as it has since 1977 after being purchased for nearly $4 million.

The ancient Greek bronze, the subject of a book by Carol C. Mattush published by the J. Paul Getty Museum, "is one of a very few life-size bronzes from ancient Greece known to exist in the world today," according to The Getty website. "It was found in the sea in international waters," The Getty explains here.

The 'Victorious Youth', which even has its own Facebook page, known as the 'Atleta di Fano', has been a subject of controversy for years. Governor Spacca, as he's identified by his press release, said that he hopes to avoid another ugly 'Morgantina experience" referring to last week's return of the Getty's $18 million Aphrodite to Sicily after years of dispute and revelations of illegal excavation and smuggling, as reported by Jason Felch in The Los Angeles Times ("Getty Ships Aphrodite Statue to Sicily"). You may read further about the Fano Athlete here, here, here, and here.

At the press conference today, Governor Spacca said that 'our goal' is to place it in one of the many museums in either Ancona or Fano in the region of Marche on the Adriatic, a place that was once the "Iron Curtain" between the ancient Roman and Greek cultures. 'Our goal is to give the people the possibility of admiring the statue and of knowing their great cultural heritage,' Governor Spacca said through an interpreter. "Having the statue back would be an extraordinary feeling and going back to ancient identity of the Adriatic culture."

Governor Spacca had met with the Getty Museum who had said that the institute would be waiting for the end of the legal proceedings in Italy before starting to deal with the Italian government. Jason Felch continued his in-depth coverage yesterday here.

"Our proposal is regardless of the judge's ruling," Governor Spacca told the media Monday. "We offer a region rich in cultural and Renaissance heritage."

You may see more about the Region of Marche through the website here.

March 9, 2011

Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - ,, No comments

The New $44.9 Million Turner Painting of Rome Displayed Today at the Getty Center in Los Angeles

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

On my way to the Getty Research Institute this afternoon, I stopped to view the newly displayed J. M. W. Turner painting, "Modern Rome -- Campo Vaccino", created by the artist 10 years after his last trip to Rome in 1828.  The $44.9 million painting attracted visitors one by one, pausing intently at the view of classical antiquities and Baroque churches.  Yet the painting's first day seemed calm compared to the art work's move from it's previous home in England to it's new home in California, a voyage delayed for eight months while England tried to raise the funds to keep it the National Gallery of Scotland.  You may read more about Turner's works in California here from the Getty's press release and about "Labeling Turner" on the museum's blog here. From overheard comments, visitors to the Getty Center seemed just as impressed with the view of Santa Monica stretching toward the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the Pacific Ocean on a sunny warm day.

July 19, 2010

"The Bulldog" Makes a Case for the Return of the "Getty Bronze"

The "Getty Bronze"
Last weekend at the 2010 ARCA conference, Italian state attorney Maurizio Fiorilli offered his thoughts on the ongoing dispute between Italy and the Getty over the disposition of this  ancient Greek bronze, often called the "Bronze Statue of a Victorious Youth".  Fiorilli has been nicknamed "Il Bulldog" by the Italian press for his quiet persistence in securing the return of illegally exported and illegally excavated cultural objects from a number of American museums, including a number of objects acquired in recent decades from the Getty.

One object which the Italians did not secure was this bronze, which is the subject of a seizure proceeding in Italy.  I've posted below four videos which find Fiorilli making a reasoned legal case for the return of the bronze.  An Italian court in February ordered the return of this object, however difficulty will arise when Italy attempts to convince a U.S. court to enforce the order.  The Getty has appealed the Italian decision, but the legal proceedings are important not only for the direct result, but for the shift in public perception which the Getty will have to navigate.  Surely the Getty does not relish the idea of a long protracted public debate over the disposition of this bronze.  The story of this bronze presents an interesting case.  Though it was certainly illegally exported from Italy, it cannot be considered a "looted" object in my view. 

The bronze was found by Italian fishermen somewhere in the Adriatic in the 1960's.  I wrote a long summary of the story of the bronze back in 2007.  To summarize, the statue was found by fisherman in the Adriatic in 1964, smuggled out of Italy, and eventually purchased by the Getty in 1977.  The bronze was discussed a great deal in the very public battle between Italy and the Getty over other looted objects in recent years.  Yet there was a lack of direct evidence linking the Getty to any wrongdoing in the acquisition.  Criminal proceedings were brought against some of the fishermen and handlers of the statue in Italy in 1968.  Left with little concrete evidence to secure a conviction, the fishermen were acquitted.  Yet as Fiorilli argued, these proceedings were made difficult because the actual statue had been smuggled abroad, and Italian prosecutors were unable to meet their burden.

I'll let Fiorilli make his case in the videos below, and apologies for the low sound levels.  Fiorilli spoke beautiful English, but chose to make his case in Italian, with the help of a translator. 

Cross-posted at