In Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times, Jason Felch reports on the ceremony officially inaugurating the Getty’s controversial statue of Aphrodite in its new museum home in Aidone, a small hill town in central Sicily.
“A chaotic scrum of politicians, journalists, townspeople and two Getty officials crowded into the small museum in a former Capuchin monastery to see the 7-foot statue of limestone and marble, which the Getty bought in 1988 for $18 million despite signs that the statue had been recently looted and smuggled out of Italy.”
The statue’s return to the land where it was believed to looted from more than 30 years ago has ignited dreams of economic revival in Aidone, where ironically many locals supplement their meager incomes by plundering and selling off ancient artifacts from nearby Morgantina, one of the Mediterranean’s most productive archaeological sites.
The limestone-and-marble goddess remained impassive in the face of the chaos and pomp of the day. She was celebrated by hundreds of citizens who braved the cold drizzle to hear two bands dressed in elaborate uniforms and speeches by local officials sporting with red, white and green sashes. Inside the Aidone museum, a children’s choir serenading politicians. Celebrants were rewarded with free Aphrodite postcards, Aphrodite t-shirts and Aphrodite note pads. Across from the museum, a Aphrodite souvenir shop was doing a brisk business in imitation Aphrodite Greek vases, Aphrodite dishes and Aphrodite cigarette trays.
Read the full story here.