A Greek goddess statue in the style of the Elgin Marbles was repatriated by a Los Angeles museum, marking the return of a valuable, but stolen piece of antiquity from the United States to Italy. Known as the Morgantina Aphrodite or Venus, the 7-foot tall marble is now displayed in a 17th century former Capuchin monastery in the tiny town of Aidone in central Sicily.
The plaque on the statue does not identity the goddess as Venus but reads,
The statue of a female deity from Morgantina, excavated clandestinely [i.e. looted by vandals] and exported illegally [i.e. purchased at an art auction without proper papers], was repatriated in 2011 by the J. Paul Getty Museum of Malibu.
Behind the terse wording is a thirty-year tale of intrigue that shook the American art world, involving local looters in a Fiat carrot truck, possibly Mafia connections, the black market in Chiusso, Switzerland, the Italian government’s persistent efforts to recover stolen antiquities and one woman at the center of it all, the Getty’s former curator Marion True. Read about it in this month’s cover story in Smithsonian Magazine, “Journey of a Goddess. A Case Study,” by Ralph Frammolino.
Above: Donald Yates at a similar statue of the goddess in recent travels to Turkey. Free download of his On the trail of Europe This and other titles available in DNA Consultants Online Bookstore.