Victorious Youth victory for Italy

Victorious Youth victory for Italy

VICTORIOUS YOUTH: Italy is entitled to the Greek statue, ECHR rules Photo credit: CC/Scotwriter 21

The Getty Trust must return Victorious Youth, its prized Greek bronze created between 300 and 100BC, to Italy.

A fishing boat hauled up the statue while trawling in international waters off Fano on the Adriatic coast in 1964.

A unanimous decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on May 2 that the J Paul Getty Trust acted with “negligence or bad faith” when it acquired the bronze in 1977 for $4 million (approximately €3.7 million).

Since then it has been on display at the Getty Villa Museum in Malibu (California) although an Italian court ordered its return in 2010, ruling that it had been illegally exported.

The Getty Trust challenged this decision which was also upheld by Italy’s Supreme Court, maintaining that its rights had been violated by Italy’s campaign to recover the statue.

Italy “had every right” to demand the statue’s return, the ECHR has now ruled.

Although part of the lower legs of the 1.52-metre statue are missing, it is one of the few surviving life-sized Greek bronzes, and some experts attribute the bronze to Lysippus, Alexander the Great’s personal sculptor.

The statue  was probably taken by the Romans after they conquered Greece and ended up on the seabed when the ship that was taking it to Italy foundered and sank.

The Getty Trust has based its arguments precisely on the statue’s origins, arguing that Italy has no right to claim the bronze because it is Greek, not Italian, that it was found in international waters and did not belong to Italy’s cultural heritage.

When first brought ashore, the fishermen allegedly concealed the statue in a Fano cabbage patch and later a priest’s bathtub before it was sold clandestinely and taken out of the country, possibly to Brazil according to some sources.

After resurfacing in London in 1969, the bronze was sold at auction in Munich to a Liechtenstein-based company in 1974 and bought by the Getty Trust, in 1977.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at