Along with the agreement for 39 other prominent objects from their antiquities collection, one of the greatest sculptures of the J. Paul Getty Museum’s collection, The Aphrodite, left for Italy last week after being disassembled in December.

A former museum director said the delayed return of the sculpture “was intended to help the Getty as an institution prepare for the loss of an object that helped establish its reputation as a cultural force.”

This delay corresponds with a deal between Italy and the Getty formed in 2007, in which Italy will lend 50 objects of similar prominence to the Getty overtime in turn for permanent return of these objects.

The Aphrodite statue was bought in 1988 for $18 million dollars. The provenance of the work had long been questionable, but in 2006 Getty investigators uncovered photos from 1980 of the sculpture in fragments leading them to believe that the title was suspect. A book about the discovery and museum’s involvement is set to come out in May entitled “Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum.”

If you are interested in Cultural Heritage join us on March 31, 2011 for the symposium: Human Rights and Cultural Heritage: From the Holocaust to the Haitian Earthquake (CLE credits available)