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Greece Calls for Parthenon Marbles Return After British Museum Thefts

Parthenon Marbles British Museum
Lack of security “reinforces the permanent and just demand of our country for the definitive return,” Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said. Credit: Txllxt TxllxT via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Greece has renewed calls for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the UK after a series of thefts at the British Museum that saw antiquities put up for sale online.

The security questions raised by the missing objects “reinforces the permanent and just demand of our country for the definitive return,” Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni told the Greek newspaper To Vima, repeating her insistence for the Marbles to be returned home.

“The loss, theft, deterioration of objects from a museum’s collections is an extremely serious and particularly sad event,” Mendoni said.

“When this happens from within, beyond any moral and criminal responsibility, a major question arises regarding the credibility of the museum organization itself,” she added.

She said that the “Ministry of Culture is following the development of the issue with great attention,” although the museum is giving scant details and reports suggesting it’s downplaying what happened.

Stolen items from the British Museum’s collection have been put up on eBay, one of the world’s largest online marketplaces. Artifacts, including those from the time of Ancient Rome, were sold for fifty dollars, although their real price reaches sixty-five thousand dollars.

Among the missing treasures are various pieces of jewelry made of gold, glass, and semi-precious stones, The Telegraph reported. They date back to between 1500 BC and the 19th century AD.

The stolen items have been listed on eBay since at least 2016.

The Museum reported a lawsuit against an unnamed employee. The case is being handled by Scotland Yard’s Economic Crime Unit. The amount of damage caused was not disclosed. However, according to The Times newspaper, one can talk of damages in the approximate amount of 102 million dollars.

UK insists Parthenon Marbles will remain at British Museum

The museum insists it obtained the Parthenon Marbles lawfully from a Scottish diplomat, Lord Elgin, who took them with permission of the then-ruling Ottoman Empire, which didn’t own them.

Secret talks between the museum’s chair, George Osborne, and the Greek government have been ongoing for more than a year.

Despite the cautious optimism expressed by Greece, the fact remains that the UK is dashing hopes for a return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has recently vowed to protect the Parthenon Marbles from being sent back to Greece, saying they remain a “huge asset” to the UK.

Despite a campaign to return the marble sculptures to Athens and talks between officials in the UK and Greece about the idea, it was given short shrift by Sunak, The Guardian reported.

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