A fourth century BC Greek statue of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, is at the centre of an on-going war between the ministry of fine arts and Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

The Getty claims the right to the rare life-size statue, stating that it came originally from a Greek colony in northern Africa, and that it would only return the precious artefact if an independent panel of experts proved, as Italian authorities claim, that it was sculpted in Sicily.

One member of the panel, a geochemical expert from Palermo university, maintains that tests show that the statue is made of a particular Sicilian stone, valorising the theory that the Aphrodite formed part of the treasures looted decades ago from Morgantina near Syracuse. Carabinieri claim that the statue, and many other disputed treasures, was removed illegally from Italy.

While the Getty-Aphrodite war is destined to continue, negotiations with the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts have led to their agreeing to return many disputed art treasures; in exchange, Italy will grant these museums loans for an equivalent value.