MFA Returns Herakles’s Head to the Turks


Late last week, the Museum of Fine Arts sent the top half of a Weary Herakles back to Turkey. The Turks had long considered the top-half stolen, and this is the latest item in their effort to repatriate pieces of art.

The MFA first obtained a half-stake in the statue, which depicts Greek hero Herakles (Hercules is the Roman spelling) resting on his club, in 1980. In 1990, the statue’s provenance came into question after a scholar noted similarities between this statue another what appeared to be the bottom half in a Turkish museum.

When the MFA secured a full interest to the art in 2004, negotiations resumed and culminated with the transfer of the sculpture to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan late last week.

Art is almost as tricky to track as gold or diamonds, and the MFA investigated the work’s provenance and negotiated with the Turkish government for more than two decades before releasing the statue back to Turkey, according to an account by The Daily Star of Lebanon.

“The Weary Herakles is a great work of art and we believe that it should be back in Turkey where it can be made whole once again,” MFA director Malcolm Rogers said in a statement. “We are pleased with this significant resolution.”