A newspaper says a letter shows an adviser to billionaire J. Paul Getty was concerned that a statue sought for his world-famous museum may have been stolen.
The ancient Greek work "Victorious Youth" is the focus of a trial in Italy, where authorities claim it was smuggled from the country and eventually sold to Getty.
The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that it found a 1976 letter from now deceased Getty adviser Bernard Ashmole, an Oxford archaeologist, referring to the museum's "exploits over the bronze statute" as a "crime."
The Getty has returned dozens of allegedly stolen artworks to Italy but not the bronze, which it bought in 1977 for $4 million.
An Italian government lawyer told The Associated Press he may mention the letter in his closing argument this week. The museum's attorney says Italy has no claim on the work.
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