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Getty 'goddess' gets a brass band welcome in Sicily

March 22, 2011 |  3:55 pm


Pomp met circumstance the other day in the small, eastern Sicilian hilltown of Aidone, Italy, when a brass band greeted a truck bearing crates holding the "Cult Statue of a Goddess," the larger-than-life-sized acrolithic sculpture that was once a centerpiece of the Getty Villa at the edge of Malibu. The sculpture is the most important antiquity returned to Italy in the Getty's 2007 restitution agreement over looted art.

Now known to locals as the "Aidone Venus" and disassembled into pieces for safty in the move, the sculpture will eventually be reassembled for display in the Aidone Archaeological Museum. Last December, 16 silver-gilt objects returned by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art also went on view at the museum. Like the cult statue, the silver is believed by many to have been looted more than 30 years ago from an archaeological dig at a nearby ancient Greek settlement.

Because the Sicilian region is earthquake-prone, the Getty also provided the special seismic-base built for the statue during its years of display in Los Angeles. (The base allows the massive stone figure to move in case of a tremor.) The Getty bought the sculpture in 1988 for $18 million.

For more on the return of "Cult Statue of a Goddess" to Italy, click here.


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-- Christopher Knight