Il Presidente of the Italian region of Marche is in Los Angeles on a business trip. And he's a busy guy.
In between celebrity photo ops, updating his Facebook page and uploading videos, Gian Mario Spacca on Monday demanded the give up the world-famous Getty Bronze, the Greek statue Italy claims as their own.
The Getty people politely declined, restated their positon that the statue is legitimately their property, and pointed out that the whole issue is in court.
The Getty Bronze, aka Victorious Youth, was discovered by fishermen in 1964 and sold for $1,600 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.
The Getty says the statue is 2300 years old and is the work of the Greek artist Lisippo.
Spacca told the Getty 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," he added.
Speaking at a news conference, Spacca unveiled a "cultural exchange" proposal to share custody of the bronze (also known to Italians as the Athlete of Fano.)
Getty spokeswoman Julie Jaskol said Spacca toured the Villa Friday, and proposed that the Getty set up a "future relationship."
"It was a friendly meeting and we were pleased that the (governor) and his group were able to visit," she said.
Jaskol said that, while museum officials talked with Spacca, "we were clear at the start of our conversation that the Statue of a Victorious Youth, known as the Getty Bronze, was not a matter for discussion since legal issues regarding this object are ongoing in Italy.
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.
Italian officials contend that rare antiquities had been buried for centuries and discovered by citizens who sold them at a fraction of their worth to art thieves – and then were purchased by the museum without legitimate historical ownership credentials.
Spacca characterized his proposal as a significant 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.
The Victorious Youth 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," Spacca said.
Getty vice president Ron Hartwig sent this statement to Brentwood Patch Monday afternoon:
"The President of the Marche Region of Italy, and others in his delegation, visited the Villa last Friday for a tour while they were in Los Angeles on other business.
“Following the tour we had coffee and a brief discussion, during which the President suggested we begin a dialogue about a future relationship between the Getty and the Marche region, similar to relationships the Getty has developed with other regions in Italy. He suggested this might include the exchange of objects between the Marche Region and the Getty on a long-term loan basis.
"We were clear at the start of our conversation that the Statue of a Victorious Youth, known as the Getty Bronze, was not a matter for discussion since legal issues regarding this object are ongoing in Italy.
“We also explained that the relationships we have developed with Italian arts institutions for the loan of objects were developed in partnership with the Italian Ministry of Culture, as part of a long-range agreement with Italy.
"The meeting was very friendly and we had a good initial conversation. We were pleased that the President and his group were able to visit the Getty Villa.
"We want to stress, however, that we continue to be completely confident of our ownership of the Getty Bronze, and we will vigorously defend our position.
"We understand the next legal step in Italy involving the Getty Bronze will be a ruling from the Court at Pesaro, and if that ruling goes against the Getty we can appeal to the Court of Cassation.”
Story courtesy of Brentwood.patch