Getty Museum to Return Orpheus Sculptures, Other Items to Italy – NBC Los Angeles


The J. Paul Getty Museum announced Thursday that it will return several objects to Italy after discovering they were illegally excavated.

On the return list is the Sculptural Group of a Seated Poet and Sirens, also known as Orpheus and the Sirens.

Per Getty’s policy to return stolen or illegally excavated items back to their country of origin or modern discovery, the museum has removed the extremely fragile, life-size terracotta figures from public view and will transport them to Rome in September. There, the Orpheus sculptures will join collections designated by the Ministry of Culture.

“Thanks to information provided by Matthew Bogdanos and the Antiquities Trafficking Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office indicating the illegal excavation of Orpheus and the Sirens, we determined that these objects should be returned,” Timothy Potts, Maria Hummer-Tuttle and Robert Tuttle director of the Getty Museum, said in a news release.

The Getty and independent scholars also determined it is appropriate to return the following items, none of which have been on public display in recent years:

  • A second-century AD colossal marble head of a divinity acquired by J. Paul Getty and the Getty Museum in the 1970s
  • A second-century AD stone mold for casting pendants acquired in the 1970s
  • An oil painting entitled Oracle at Delphi, 1881, by Camillo Miola, acquired in the 1970s
  • A fourth-century BC Etruscan bronze thymiaterion acquired in 1996
Colossal Head of a Divinity

J. Paul Getty Museum

A second-century AD colossal marble head of a divinity acquired by J. Paul Getty and the Getty Museum in the 1970s.

Mold for Casting Pendants

J. Paul Getty Museum

A second-century AD stone mold for casting pendants acquired in the 1970s.

The Oracle 1880

J. Paul Getty Museum

An oil painting entitled Oracle at Delphi, 1881, by Camillo Miola, acquired in the 1970s.

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J. Paul Getty Museum

A fourth-century BC Etruscan bronze thymiaterion acquired in 1996.

The museum is working with the Ministry of Culture to return the items at a later date.

“We value our strong and fruitful relationship with the Italian Ministry of Culture and with our many archaeological, conservation, curatorial, and other scholarly colleagues throughout Italy, with whom we share a mission to advance the preservation of ancient cultural heritage,” Potts said.

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