Italy's Ministry of Culture has rejected a request by a Munich museum to return an ancient Roman statue bought by Adolf Hitler in 1938 that was returned to Italy after the war as part of the treasures illegally obtained by the Nazis, calling it a national treasure.
The Discus Thrower statue is a Roman copy of a long-lost Greek bronze original from the 2nd century BC, excavated in 1781, which Hitler bought from its private Italian owner under pressure from Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and against the wishes of the Minister of Education.
The dispute arose when the director of the National Roman Museum requested that the marble base of another 17th-century statue be returned from the museum's collection in Munich.
A German museum has instead requested the return of the Discus Thrower statue, saying it was illegally taken to Italy in 1948, Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported on Friday.
Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sanguliano categorically rejected any possibility of returning the statue to Germany.
"The work must absolutely remain in Italy because it is a national treasure," Sanguliano said, as quoted by the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
He expressed doubt that the German Minister of Culture, Claudia Roth, was even aware of the museum's request from Bavaria.
The German Ministry of Culture has not yet responded to this information.