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Getty Trust elects former U.S. ambassador to Italy to board of trustees

April 5, 2010 | 12:56 pm

Spogli The J. Paul Getty Trust said Monday that its board of trustees has elected Ronald P. Spogli, former U.S. ambassador to Italy, as a member of the board.

Spogli served as ambassador to Italy and San Marino during the second half of the George W. Bush administration, from 2005 to 2009. He now serves as president and chief executive of Freeman Spogli & Co., a private-equity firm based in Los Angeles that he helped to found in 1983.

The appointment of Spogli to the board seems to signal an effort on the part of the Getty to strengthen its ties with Italy, which in the past have been strained and contentious.

As ambassador, Spogli played a role in the museum's much-publicized legal wrangling with the Italian government that resulted in the Getty's 2007 promise to return 40 works of ancient art that Italy claimed were looted and smuggled out of the country before being purchased by the Getty.

In a statement, Louise Bryson, the board chair, said that Spogli brings "recognized leadership in Italy where we look forward to strengthening particularly meaningful partnerships."

Spogli appears to be something of an Italianophile. He lived in Italy while a student at Stanford’s Florence campus, according to the Getty. The museum said that Spogli also lived in Milan, where he was lead researcher for a project studying the social impact of labor migration from southern Italy to the Italian industrial north.

The Getty could use Spogli's Italian connections on its latest antiquities-related battle.

In February, a judge in Pesaro, Italy, ordered that the famed Statue of the Victorious Youth, which is also known as the Getty Bronze, be confiscated from the museum's collection and be returned immediately. 

The Getty Trust has stated that it will appeal the decision to the Court of Cassation in Rome and will defend its legal ownership of the statue. 

-- David Ng

Photo: Ronald Spogli. Credit: Wikimedia Commons