The Italian government has denied a request from the German State Antiquities Collection to return the ancient Roman statue, the Discobolus Palombara. The statue, a 2nd-century Roman copy of a Greek bronze original, was bought by Adolf Hitler in 1938. The artwork is considered a national treasure by Italy.
History of the Discobolus Palombara
The Discobolus Palombara was unearthed at a Roman villa in 1781. It was acquired by Hitler under duress from Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and against the wishes of Italy's education minister and cultural officials. The statue was returned to Italy in 1948 as part of a restitution of artworks illegally obtained by the Nazis during World War II.
Basis of the Dispute
The recent dispute began when the National Roman Museum in Italy requested the return of the statue's 17th-century marble base, currently in possession of the German museum. The German museum responded by asking for the Discobolus Palombara itself, claiming it was illegally transported to Italy in 1948.
Italy's Stand on the Issue
Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano rejected the German claim, stating the work was fraudulently obtained by the Nazis and is integral to Italy's national heritage. Sangiuliano expressed a fervent hope that the marble base would be returned to Italy. In a strong stance, the minister stated they would have to step over his dead body to retrieve the statue.