Armenians sue for return of a bible from the Getty

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Illustrated pages from a rare bible are the focus of a legal dispute between an Armenian church and the Getty Museum.

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, the Armenian Apostolic Church of America claims that seven pages ripped from a priceless Armenian bible should not belong to the Getty. Attorneys for the La Crescenta-based denomination say someone stole the pages during the violent downfall of the Ottoman Empire nine decades ago.

The church wants the Getty to return those pages so they can re-join the rest of the handwritten bible at a museum in Armenia. Getty officials say their institution legally purchased the text 16 years ago from a private collector. The pages, known as the Canon Tables, have formed the basis for exhibitions and scholarship.

In recent years, the Getty has dealt with other challenges to its ownership of ancient items. It recently agreed to return dozens of sculptures to Italy after that nation’s government questioned whether the Getty had legitimately acquired the works.

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