Getty Villa prepares to say farewell to its goddess

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The museum welcomes the culture minister of Sicily, where the ancient sculpture will return, ending decades of contention over looted artworks.

To look at her — 71/2 feet tall atop her earthquake-resistant pedestal, her face serene, her limestone robes rippling in an unfelt wind — is not just to appreciate a pinnacle of ancient Greek statuary, but to experience a semblance of how divinity must have felt to awestruck pagans.

And now the great goddess, once described as "the greatest piece of classical sculpture in … any country outside of Greece and Great Britain," not to mention the most costly antiquity the J. Paul Getty Trust ever acquired, is about to depart.

Sunday is the last day that "Cult Statue of a Goddess" will be on view at the Getty Villa near Malibu. She then will be separated into her connecting parts, packed and flown in January to Sicily, where she is believed to have been illegally dug from the ground in the late 1970s. In late March, she'll be unveiled in the archaeological museum at Aidone, where government officials hope she becomes a magnet for tourism, along with other finds from the nearby ancient digsite of Morgantina....

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