Art of Midlothian fights to keep the three Getty boys

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The Independent Online
SO, IT looks as if the priceless statuary group The Three Gettys won't be coming to British shores after all (writes our Arts Troubleshooter, Carlos Jackyll). This has caused immense apathy among British gallery-goers, none of whom had ever heard of the priceless statuary group The Three Gettys, but this hasn't prevented the story taking the headlines at a time when real news is thin on the ground. So what, exactly, is this priceless statuary group, The Three Gettys?

The Three Gettys (writes our Woman in the galleries, Normandine Gerald) is a wonderful group of three mythical philanthropists believed to be named Paul, Paul jr, John Paul Jr, Pope John Paul jr, John Paul Mellon jr and Zeppo. This makes six Gettys altogether, but you can only see three at any time, three from in front and three from behind. They are bronzed figures and each is holding out a chequebook in one hand and a pen in the other, as if to say, 'Name your price'. The group is not well known to the general public, which is hardly surprising, as the general public knows and cares nothing about art, but is even less surprising in the case of The Three Gettys, as they have not been on display for several hundred years, but have reclusively hidden away in attics and lumber rooms, hiding their worth from open gaze. The big question now is, what is their true worth, and how high stands the stock of the man who created the sculpture, Jean Paul Gaultier Canova?

Shares were steady again this morning in sculpture, statuary, headstones and marble figures (reports our man in the City, Jean Paul Fraud) as no major movements in or out of the country were reported. Share prices in Italian sculpture had shot up yesterday on receipt of news that a ship containing over 500 tons of religious marble figures stolen from Italian churches had come down in the Bay of Biscay, but the ship was reported safe and sound this morning, with a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary hovering over it, and leading shares went steady again. There is still no confirmation of the rumour that scholars have unearthed the original bill for The Last Supper, written in Leonardo da Vinci's own writing and marked, 'Thank you and please come again'.

But the question remains (writes Big Joe Canova, our man in Edinburgh) whether Scotland will hold on to one of its greatest art treasures, the so-called Tim Clifford. This remarkable piece, standing nearly life-size, dressed in a green smoking-jacket with something on it which may be either mayonnaise or frogging, and resplendent in tartan trousers and bedroom slippers, has been one of Scotland's art treasures for longer than most people care to remember. Originally shipped in from England at enormous expense, the Tim Clifford soon proved its worth as an object of media attention, veneration, contumely, acclaim and bafflement, but never apathy. Whatever you think of the Tim Clifford - whether, like some people, you love it or whether, like others, you look at it and say, 'What's it meant to be?' - you can't ignore it. Now, however, there is a move afoot for the English to reclaim their long- lost treasure, and there is considerable pressure on the Government to provide funds to bring the Tim Clifford back to its rightful place, unseen somewhere in a lumber room in Chatsworth.

Meanwhile, it's time for a new football season here in Scotland (writes the hard man of Scottish football reporting, Rene McGrit). But before the season gets under way in earnest for the snows and mud of Christmas-time, there's a wee bit of time for partying, and last night, at a Festival Party in Edinburgh to celebrate the introduction of the new playing strip of the Scottish Galleries XI, I found myself talking to the controversial manager of Art of Midlothian, Tim Clifford, resplendent in his new playing strip of mayonnaise-green smoking jacket and tartan trews, and I took the opportunity to ask him: 'So, Tim, whit's it all aboot? And will ye be hanging on to the three Getty brothers, who acted so well as a central line of defence last year, but who were reported to be hankering after their native American names this season?'

However, whether unable to understand my homely Scottish accent, or simply disinclined to give away his attacking strategy, Tim simply patted me on the head, murmured: 'Who the hell invited you here, sonny? I'll see he's fired tomorrow,' and passed on down the line. So, what will happen to The Three Graces? (please go back and start again . . .).