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Jason Felch, the Los Angeles Times journalist who detailed the Getty antiquities scandal in his book “Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum,” will speak at Chapman University on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. in Kennedy Hall 237. Felch’s presentation will be based on his book, which examines how Los Angeles’ J. Paul Getty Museum became the epicenter of an unprecedented scandal over the acquisition of looted Greek and Roman antiquities by American museums.

Admission is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required at Chapman.edu/ChasingAphrodite. The talk will be followed by a reception and book signing (books will be available for purchase). More information on the talk: (714) 997-6729. Chapman University is located at One University Drive in Orange. It is suggested that attendees park in the Barrera Structure on Sycamore Avenue behind Kennedy Hall. Parking information: Chapman.edu/Map/Parking.asp

In the book, which Felch co–wrote with fellow journalist Ralph Frammolino, details are revealed of the Getty Museum’s illicit purchases – many from smugglers – of looted Greek and Roman antiquities. In 2005, the Italians indicted former Getty curator Marion True for trafficking in looted antiquities, and by 2007, the Getty had agreed to return 40 of 46 artifacts demanded by the Italian government. Italy in turn agreed to loan the Getty comparable objects.

One of the major pieces lost by the Getty was a 5th century B.C. Aphrodite statue that had been looted from Morgantina, Sicily, and was later purchased for the Getty by True. But the Getty still holds on to “Victorious Youth,” popularly known as the “Getty Bronze,” a statue of an athlete discovered by Italian fishermen in international waters in 1964 and peddled on the “grey market” that deals illicitly in antiquities. The bronze, attributed by some experts to the great 4th Century B.C. Greek sculptor Lysippos, was the prized acquisition of the Getty’s first antiquities curator, Jiri Frel.

Fallout from the Getty scandal has since motivated some of America’s top art museums to voluntarily return to Italy and Greece some 100 classical antiquities, worth more than half a billion dollars.

Felch’s talk is presented as part of the Bensussen Art Lecture Series by the Chapman University Department of Art and the Chapman University School of Law’s Center for Global Law and Development. It is part of the authors’ fall book tour that includes stops at Princeton, Rutgers, the University of Pennsylvania, New York University, Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum, the Archaeological Institute of America, the Harvard Club of New York City and the Getty Villa.

Press release provided by Chapman University on Oct 18, 2011

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