LA Getty museum to return illegally exported Orpheus sculptures

Image - Getty Museum: Roka/shutterstock

Image - Getty Museum: Roka/shutterstock

The LA Getty museum will return Orpheus sculptures to Rome in Italy after it has been revealed that they were illegally excavated and exported. 

Concerns were first raised about the 2,000 year old sculptures by the Antiquities Trafficking Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. They were purchased by John Paul Getty for the art museum in 1976. Curators have now said that the trio of sculptures will need “to be sent back to Italy”, according to

The sculptures depict a group of a seated poets and sirens and are entitled ‘Orpheus and the Sirens’. The structures are nearly life size. In mythology, Orpheus was a musician and was part of the Argonaut expedition. He saved the rest of the fleet from the music of the sirens by playing his own, more powerful music and as a result represents the power of love and art to overcome death. 

Director of the Getty museum Timothy Potts has said that he is “determined that these objects should be returned”. He made a statement expressing the high value he places on the Getty museum’s “strong and fruitful relationship with the Italian Ministry of Culture” as well as with the many “archeological, conservation, curatorial, and other scholarly colleagues throughout Italy”, as reported by

The museum are said to be currently employing “specially tailored equipment and procedures” in order to transfer the incredibly breakable sculptures back to Rome where they belong. 

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Image - Annie Dabb
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Annie Dabb

From Newcastle originally, Annie is based in Manchester and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features. Got a story you want to share? Then get in touch at