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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 January 2006, 09:13 GMT
Getty re-opens amid controversy
The Getty Villa, in Los Angeles
The villa houses the collection of former oil magnate John Paul Getty
The Getty Villa, the California museum housing one of the world's finest ancient art collections, has re-opened after an eight year refit.

The renovation of the building, a copy of a Pompeii villa destroyed by the Vesuvius eruption in 79AD, cost $275m.

On display in Malibu are treasures from the late oil tycoon John Paul Getty's 44,000 pieces of ancient art.

But hanging over the re-opening are allegations that some of the museum's antiquities were looted.

Theft investigation

A former curator of the museum, Marion True, is on trial in Italy charged with plotting to receive stolen goods.

GETTY VILLA
Home to 44,000 Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities
1,200 pieces on permanent display in 23 galleries
Artefacts date from 6,500BC to AD400
Treasures include Lansdowne Herakles and Statue of a Victorious Youth

Both Ms True and the Getty deny the claims, which emerged from an investigation of a former gallery owner, Giacomo Medici, who was convicted in December 2004 of smuggling art.

On Friday, the director of the Getty Museum, Michael Brand, held a meeting in Rome with officials from Italy's culture ministry and police.

Italy is asking for the return of 42 artefacts, including a statue of Aphrodite which the Getty purchased at a cost of $18m in 1988, saying that they were acquired illegally.

According to a joint statement, both sides agreed to hold further talks on the issue.

Others implicated

Other museums have also been implicated in Giacomo Medici's dealings, including the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

People looking at the Lansdowne Herakles
The renowned Lansdowne Herakles was found in 1790

The Getty Villa will act as companion to the modernist Getty Center in Los Angeles.

The colonnaded villa, built in the 1970s on a cliff-top overlooking the Pacific Ocean, now includes a new wing made of concrete and glass.

Prize draws at the museum include the Lansdowne Herakles, a larger than life statue of the god dating from AD125, found in Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, and the Statue of a Victorious Youth, a sculpture of an Olympic victor, one of the few surviving life-sized Greek bronzes.

Its re-opening has allowed the museum to return its much lauded collection of Roman, Greek and Etruscan art to public view after years in storage.

"We are so happy to be back at the villa, so happy to be looking at the objects on display after so long," antiquities curator Karol Wight said.

"It's been like sending your children off to school and only welcoming them back when they're in college," she said.





SEE ALSO:
Further problems for Getty Trust
22 Dec 05 |  Entertainment
Ex-Getty curator appears in court
16 Nov 05 |  Entertainment
Greece demands 'stolen artefacts'
25 Oct 05 |  Entertainment
Getty to return disputed artworks
03 Oct 05 |  Entertainment


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