At issue is an ancient bronze sculpture that many experts believe was forged by Alexander the Great’s personal sculptor. Italian authorities say that a fisherman who discovered the work illegally sold it to middlemen who smuggled it out of Italy. The J. Paul Getty Museum eventually acquired the work in 1977.
Getty lawyers have maintained that the museum acted in good faith when it purchased the work, which is now known as the Getty Bronze, saying that it had no idea the work could have been illegally removed from Italy. A letter discovered by the Los Angeles Times, though, disputes that claim. In a letter written by one of the philanthropist’s advisers, the “exploits over the statue” are described as a “crime.”
The Getty’s legal counsel, Stephen Clark, cast doubt on the importance of the letter in an interview with the Times. "I wouldn't draw the conclusion that this acknowledges there was some crime,” he said. The Getty maintains that Italy does not have legal standing to pursue the case since the museum acted in good faith when acquiring the works.
Read more at the Los Angeles Times.