Italy’s highest court has ordered the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to return an ancient Greek bronze statue that was found off the Adriatic coast of Italy by fishermen in 1964.
The ruling by the Court of Cassation in Rome is the latest round in a decade-long, acrimonious dispute between the museum and Italy over the ownership of the exquisite bronze figure, known as Victorious Youth or the Getty Bronze.
The Getty Museum immediately rejected the judgment, saying it had no intention of giving up the fourth century BC statue, believed to have been cast by a Greek sculptor named Lysippus.
The court in Rome upheld the ruling of a lower court in Pesaro in the Marche region of central Italy, where the statue was found more than 50 years ago.
It is thought that a Roman ship was bringing the bronze from Greece to Italy when it sank, plunging it to the bottom of the sea.
“We now hope that the US authorities will act as soon as possible to favour the restitution of the statue to Italy,” said Alberto Bonisoli, Italy’s culture minister.