LONDON — After a five-year struggle, Britain appears finally to have prevented the Three Graces sculpture from being exported to the Getty Museum in Malibu, thanks to a donation by a wealthy Dutch art collector.
The Financial Times newspaper said today that Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza had pledged $1.24 million, the final installment needed to keep in Britain the 19th-Century marble sculpture by Italy's Antonio Canova. "I thought it was idiotic to let this thing go to California for a little amount of money, so I decided to help," the 73-year-old industrialist told the newspaper.
The Three Graces has been in the headlines as British museums tried to raise the money to match an $11.75-million offer made by the Getty Museum five years ago.
The British government delayed its export in the hope that the money could be found. The National Galleries of Scotland and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London raised $8.96 million, and Britons were delighted last month when multimillionaire John Paul Getty II offered to donate $1.55 million.
But he almost withdrew his offer after Timothy Clifford, director of the Scottish institution, accused Getty of being motivated by ill will toward his father, the late J. Paul Getty, whose fortune supports the Getty Museum. Getty denied this, Clifford apologized, and Getty said his offer still stood.