Pomp met circumstance the other day in the small, eastern Sicilian hilltown of Aidone, Italy, when a brass band greeted a truck bearing crates holding the “Cult Statue of a Goddess,” the larger-than-life-sized acrolithic sculpture that was once a centerpiece of the Getty Villa at the edge of Malibu. The sculpture is the most important antiquity returned to Italy in the Getty’s 2007 restitution agreement over looted art.
Now known to locals as the “Aidone Venus” and disassembled into pieces for safty in the move, the sculpture will eventually be reassembled for display in the Aidone Archaeological Museum. Last December, 16 silver-gilt objects returned by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art also went on view at the museum. Like the cult statue, the silver is believed by many to have been looted more than 30 years ago from an archaeological dig at a nearby ancient Greek settlement.