LOS ANGELES—The J. Paul Getty Trust received notice today that a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America relating to several pages from the Zeyt'un Gospels in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum. The Getty is confident that it has legal ownership of these pages, known as Canon Tables, which have been widely published, studied and exhibited.
Here are the facts relating to the acquisition:
The Getty Museum legally acquired the Canon Tables in 1994 from a private collection in the United States after a thorough review of their provenance. They have been repeatedly described and reproduced in publications in English, Armenian and French. Indeed, a notable Armenian scholar who also was the primate of the Armenian Church of America acknowledged key details about the Canon Tables' provenance in a 1943 article, including the fact that they were owned by an Armenian family in the United States. The pages have been publicly exhibited throughout the United States, including a well-publicized 1994 exhibition of Armenian art and culture at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.
Promptly after acquiring the Canon Tables, the Getty prominently featured them in the J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, Volume 23, including a cover illustration. The Canon Tables have been published and exhibited several times since the Getty acquired them. At no time in the ninety or so years that the Canon Tables have been in the United States has anyone questioned their ownership.
The Getty believes the lawsuit is groundless and should be dismissed.
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