Apr 16, 2018

The “Getty Kouros” was removed from view at the museum after it was officially deemed to be a forgery.

The authenticity of the kouros (a freestanding Greek sculpture of a naked youth) has been debated since the Getty acquired the object in the mid-1980s for around $9 million. Despite the controversy, the work remained on view at the Los Angeles museum, next to a plaque reading “Greek, about 530 B.C. or modern forgery,” the New York Times reported. But it will no longer be up to viewers to weigh whether the object is authentic or not. Following a renovation of the Getty Villa, the sculpture was moved to storage where it will be on view by appointment only. “It’s fake, so it’s not helpful to show it along with authentic material,” said Getty director Timothy Potts. The removal is the final chapter in a decades-long saga that began when the Getty museum performed a battery of scientific tests on the piece to confirm its authenticity prior to purchase, only to buy the work and watch the faith in its authenticity slowly erode over time, the Times reported in 1991. A chemical process that occured on the exterior of the sculpture led scientists to believe the work must have been centuries old, but such a reaction was actually shown to be replicable in a lab. The additional investigation came after an indisputably fake torso similar to that of the Getty Kouros was discovered, causing some experts to reverse their position on the authenticity of the piece. Further investigation revealed that the curator who presented the kouros to the Getty for purchase forged the accompanying provenance documents.