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More Antiquities Restitution News

Now that you’ve cleaned out the Miami sand from between your toes and the hype from between your ears, you’re undoubtedly asking yourselves, “Now that I’ve seen the art of the last 10 minutes, what’s the latest news about art of the centuries B.C.? CultureGrrl has your answers:
At a press conference today in Athens, Greek culture minister George Voulgarakis and J. Paul Getty Museum director Michael Brand announced they had “reached an agreement in principle” for the Getty’s return of a 4th-century B.C. gold funerary wreath and a 6th-century B.C. marble kore (statue of a woman). Nicholas Paphitis of the Associated Press reports it is “unclear if the return would stop a Greek criminal investigation over the alleged theft of the wreath.”
The wreath figured in recent charges reportedly brought by Greek police against former Getty curator Marion True. (Reuters‘ report of the Greek-Getty accord is here. The NY Times report, in today’s paper but posted last night, is incomplete and outdated.)
For the complete Getty press release on the Greek agreement, click the link at the bottom of this post.
Meanwhile, another antiquities victor is flaunting its spoils: The Italian Ministry of Culture has announced (click “Archeologia in Festa”) that an exhibition of 11 of the 13 objects returned to Italy last September by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts will be exhibited this Wednesday through Jan. 28 at the Museum of Antiquity, Turin, before being distributed to Italian museums in the objects’ various territories of origin.
And back in the U.S., in a Newsweek web exclusive posted Friday night, James Wood, incoming president of the J. Paul Getty Trust, told reporter Andrew Murr that he needs to see “what productive role I can play” in the negotiations with Italy that have broken down over the contested “Getty Bronze.” Wood added:
I think I’m another set of eyes and experience. I am very eager to resolve this in a way that is fair, and that allows us to go ahead. There are so many cooperative ventures that we and the Italians want to take. Getting there may not be easy. But I’m confident.
While noting that he has to “sit down, listen and learn a lot,” Wood already served notice that the Getty should “collect aggressively,” within the strictures of its new acquisition guidelines, at that “it’s a good moment to step back and reevaluate the entire organization.”
And here in New York, a Greek-introduced resolution on “The Return or Restitution of Cultural Property to their Countries of Origin” was adopted last week by the U.N. General Assembly. It calls on “all relevant bodies, including agencies, funds and programs of the United Nations system, to work with UNESCO, within their mandates, and in cooperation with Member States, to continue to address the issue of return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin and provide appropriate support accordingly.”
In addition, it urges countries “to introduce effective national and international measures to prevent and combat illicit trafficking in cultural property, including special training for police, customs and border services.”


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HELLENIC REPUBLIC MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM REACH ACCORD
Los Angeles – The following statement is being issued jointly by the Honorable Georgios A. Voulgarakis, Minister of Culture for the Hellenic Republic, and Dr. Michael Brand, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum:
We are pleased to announce today we have reached an agreement in principle on the return of two objects in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum – a Gold Funerary Wreath and a Statue of a Kore – that have been claimed by the Hellenic Republic Ministry of Culture. A formal agreement, which will be signed soon, will include details about the return of the objects to Greece, as well as plans for future collaboration between the Hellenic Republic Ministry of Culture and the J. Paul Getty Museum.
Dr. Brand said he made the decision to return the objects, which has been approved by the Board of Trustees of the J. Paul Getty Trust, on the basis of the Getty’s thorough review of evidence, which included information provided by the Ministry. Minister Voulgarakis and Dr. Brand agreed that this collaborative, analytical approach, which in August led to the return of two other objects from the Getty Museum claimed by the Ministry, was the appropriate way to resolve complex ownership claims involving ancient works of art.
Minister Voulgarakis announced that the resolution of outstanding issues between the Hellenic Republic and the Getty now will allow the Ministry to work with the Getty Museum to establish a broad framework for cultural cooperation in areas of common interest, including loans of important ancient artifacts and periodic exhibitions.
Minister Voulgarakis and Dr. Brand praised their respective teams for their dedication and diligent work in completing the process begun early this year that resulted in the agreement announced today.

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