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MFA sends ‘Weary Herakles’ statue back to Turkey

In 1992, the MFA conducted tests to see if the two pieces of the statue fit together, confirming that they do.Museum of Fine Arts/Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday ended a more than two-decade-old dispute with Turkey by returning the top half of its “Weary Herakles” statue to Turkish officials. The 1,800-year-old Roman sculpture has been at the MFA since 1982. But after years of negotiations, the MFA acknowledged in July that the statue, which experts believe was probably looted from an excavation in Turkey, should be sent back to that country.

Weary Herakles (”Herakles Farnese” type) Roman, Imperial Period, mid-to-late 2nd century A.D.PHOTOGRAPH © MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON

Last night, Turkish officials met with MFA leaders for less than an hour to sign an agreement transferring ownership of the sculpture to the Turkish government. The agreement stated that the MFA acquired the object in good faith and without knowing about any of the questionable circumstances surrounding its path from Turkey to Boston.


The MFA’s top half of “Weary Herakles” will be reunited with its bottom half in a museum in Antalya, Turkey.

“We are very pleased to have received the Weary Herakles from the MFA,” said Turkish Cultural Heritage Director General Murat Suslu in a statement. “We believe that it is important that such objects should be returned to their homeland and displayed there. I hope the return of the statue will enhance our cooperation with the MFA.”

Geoff Edgers can be reached at