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An Italian court has ruled that the Minneapolis Institute of Art must return an ancient sculpture from its permanent collection to Italy, saying it was illegally excavated in the 1970s before Mia acquired it for $2.5 million in 1986.

The marble sculpture, "Doryphoros," is well-known to museum goers. Long-displayed in the rotunda on the second floor of the museum, it greeted visitors walking toward the Target Wing.

"We have seen press reports that a court in Naples, Italy, has called for the return of a work of art in the museum's permanent collection," a Mia spokesperson said via email. "We have not been contacted by the Italian authorities in connection with the court's decision. If the museum is contacted, we will review the matter and respond accordingly."

Image via Minneapolis Institute of Art, Star Tribune

It is believed that the statue originated in the south of Naples. The city's mayor is asking the Italian Minister of Culture to bring the artwork back home. If returned, it would be put on display in a local archaeological museum that opened in fall 2020.

According to Mia's website, the sculpture was made in the 1st century by an anonymous Roman sculptor, and the portion missing from its left arm once held a javelin used in an ancient Olympic game.

The sculpture is currently located in Mia's gallery 241 on the second floor; it was moved out of the hallway/rotunda just before the pandemic for the installation of "When Home Won't Let You Stay: Art & Migration."

This Doryphoros is one of a number of Roman copies based off original works by the Greek sculptor Polykleitos. The sculpture that Mia owns, made in the first century BCE, is one of the best preserved.