The export of Bernini bust was legal

The purchaser of the bust provided all necessary information about the bust, the court claims.

Bust of Pope Paul V by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, sold in an auction and exported from Slovakia.Bust of Pope Paul V by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, sold in an auction and exported from Slovakia. (Source: Courtesy of Sotheby's)

The Bratislava Regional Court has cancelled the decision of the Culture Ministry to stop permission to export the bust of Pope Paul V, designed by Italian Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

At the same time it accepted the lawsuit submitted by Clément Guenebeaud who bought the bust, which was part of the collection of deceased Slovak artist Ernest Zmeták for €24,000 and then planned to export it abroad, the SITA newswire reported.

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Read also: How Slovakia lost a Bernini Read more 

Guenebeaud stated in the lawsuit that he had provided all necessary information about the bust to the state authorities, based on which the Culture Ministry had originally approved the export. The bust was then bought by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles for more than €30 million, the media reports suggest.

The chair of the court’s senate claimed in the ruling that the buyer clearly and correctly identified the piece in the request. He however claimed that the question of the real authorship of the work is still open.

The Culture Ministry told the court that the original export permission had been issued unlawfully as it had lacked the opinion of a relevant expert. It concerned the copy of Bernini’s work, and not the original. Even the ministry is not sure about the original bust, thus it is calling for its proper examination, as reported by SITA.

The ministry’s lawyer has not said yet whether they will appeal the verdict.

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