Final Chapter: Getty agrees to return disputed works to Italy

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In a sweeping deal to end years of controversy, the J. Paul Getty Museum agreed today to return to Italy 40 antiquities from its collection, including several masterpieces and its prized 5th century BC statue of Aphrodite, a touchstone of its collection.

The draft agreement, reached over a furious exchange of faxes late Tuesday night, includes broader cultural cooperation and loans. It is expected to be finalized in the coming days. With the deal, the Getty will avoid a threatened cultural embargo due to be imposed today and will settle its long-standing dispute with Italy over the purchase of antiquities illegally excavated and smuggled out of the country.

The agreement marks the most significant victory yet for Italy's decade-long campaign to repatriate artifacts stolen from the country and bought by American museums. Earlier agreements with the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts included fewer important objects than the deal with the Getty, which has from the beginning been the most deeply implicated in Italian's investigation.

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