Quote of the Day

If the Mona Lisa had been sawed in two during the Napoleonic Wars and the separated halves had been acquired by different museums, would there not be a general wish to see what they might look like if reunited?

Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair magazine

February 1, 2015

Why recent articles about Amal & the Marbles are misleading

Posted at 8:56 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

A number of the papers this weekend carried a similar story relating to the recent change of government in Greece.

The basis of the story is relatively factual – that the country is reviewing existing contracts that the government holds and is looking to save money where possible. From that point onwards though, the story is a complete fabrication, unless somebody else can point me to evidence to the contrary.

The story relates to the visit late last year to Greece of a team of Laywers, which included Amal Clooney. The way the story is portrayed is that whatever was agreed in Athens is now to be ripped up – and that her law firm is no longer likely to be a part of any initiative.

The reality (to the best of my knowledge) is something more like this.

1. Amal travelled to Athens with Geoffrey Robertson and Professor Norman Palmer and was very much the junior one of the three there. To describe it as Amal’s law firm is laughable. However the papers have a love of celebrity stories, so I doubt I can stop them from framing the story in this way. In some ways, I don’t have such an issue with it, if it gets readers who might otherwise have been uninterested to find out more about the Parthenon Marbles – although they won;t learn a great deal from this particular article.

2. The team of lawyers were in Athens to advise the government about the legal options available to them with regard to securing the return of the Marbles. To the best of my knowledge, they were not signed up to anything and if they received any money, it was likely to be merely their out of pocket expenses for travel, accommodation etc while they were there. To suggest that a government would sign any sort of contract on a first meeting over a subject as complex as the Parthenon Sculptures reunification is ridiculously naive. In the previous coalition, various ministers were trained lawyers and would have wanted to give the matter full consideration & have it assessed by their own in-house legal advisors and others before signing on the dotted line.

3. Much is made of the cost, but as highlighted above, as yet, there is no clear cost associated with this, as nothing has been agreed. Furthermore, the sort of cost talked about for a legal case, while a massive amount to the average man in the street, is tiny for governments that are regularly moving about far larger amounts on a daily basis. That is not to say that it is not an issue – but if there was a motivation to proceed, then the cost impact would be unlikely to be the major consideration. Indeed, if it was a major issue for the government and they were willing to swallow their pride, I am aware of various wealthy Greek foundations and individuals around the world, which would be happy to assist in funding such an initiative.

All in all, its a bit of a non-story. The new government is renewing contracts, the new culture minister is asked about the marbles & says he’s reviewing the strategy (as any new government would). That is all that has happened.

Personally, I hope that the government continues along the lines of the previous coalition with regard to the Marbles. I know that in Greek politics, there is often a tendency to rip up everything that the previous government did and head in the opposite direction, but I personally believe that great steps forward were made in the last few years – far more than was managed by any previous governments. Not only was an advisory team specifically focused on the Marbles set up, but on their advice, an invitation to mediation via UNESCO was issued and more recently, discussions have been made about other possible legal approaches. Finally the country has moved from talking about the issue to acting on it, and it would be a great shame to lose this momentum. For a relatively small outlay (for a nation, even an impoverished one), something great could eventually be achieved – something that could give the average Greek citizen a sense of achievement and success, a reason to be proud in their country once more.

David Hill, Amal Clooney & Geoffrey Robertson in Athens

David Hill, Amal Clooney & Geoffrey Robertson in Athens

From:
Daily Mail

Curtains for the new Mrs Clooney? Amal’s law firm could be ditched as advisor on Elgin Marbles as Greece’s new left-wing government reviews contracts
By Flora Drury For Mailonline
Published: 12:10, 31 January 2015 | Updated: 13:37, 31 January 2015

Amal Clooney could find herself with one less high profile case to fight after Greece’s new culture minister revealed they were reconsidering how to win back the Elgin Marbles.

Aristides Baltas revealed they were looking at the ‘strategy’ behind his country’s attempts to get the 5th century BC statues returned – and were willing to ‘tweak’ it if necessary.
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January 29, 2015

Architectural competition to redesign access to the Acropolis site

Posted at 2:02 pm in Acropolis

An architectural competition is soon to be announced, to redesign the entrance route to the Athenian Acropolis.

Entrance path to the Acropolis

Entrance path to the Acropolis

From:
ANSAmed

Greece: architecture contest to redesign Acropolis access
26 January, 14:34

Greek culture ministry is set to announce an international architecture contest inviting contestants to present proposals that will make access to the Acropolis more functional and friendlier for disabled visitors and improve the aesthetics of the surrounding area, Greek Travel Pages (Gtp) website reports. Renowned Greek architect Dimitris Pikionis, responsible for the landscaping work of the pedestrian walkways around the Acropolis in the 1950s, envisioned the entrance to the archaeological site as a sort of pilgrimage where visitors, on their way up to the Parthenon, would gain the overall view of the area from all its angles. In efforts to save time, however, tour guides created several side roads leading to the site, which contributed to overcrowding at its main entrance. According to Kathimerini daily, the competition aims to restore Pikionis’ initial vision and plan with the winning architect successfully redesigning the site’s entrance facilities. (ANSAmed).

January 28, 2015

Korean artefacts return from LA County Museum of Art

Posted at 2:16 pm in Similar cases

Two Korean artefact purchased by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art are being returned after being identified as having been illegally removed from the country by a US soldier.

Official seal of Queen Moon-jung

Official seal of Queen Moon-jung

From:
The Korea Times

Two stolen Korean artifacts to be returned home after 65 years
January 26, 2015

Two stolen artifacts will soon return to South Korea after 65 years.

The official seal of Queen Moon-jung, as well as a seal of King Hyeon-jong, were illegally taken by an American soldier during the Korean War.
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January 27, 2015

New Greek government & new Culture Minister, Nikos Xydakis

Posted at 2:22 pm in Elgin Marbles

Over the years since I started taking an interest in the Parthenon Marbles, while Greek governments have come and gone, the Culture Ministry (under a variety of name changes) has changed leadership more than most departments. Ministers have come and gone, although only a few have made a real impact, perhaps for me, the most notable being Venizelos (who spearheaded campaigning in London in the lead up to the 2004 Olympics) and Samaras (who oversaw the opening of the New Acropolis Museum, although its construction started well before that). Both of these understood that it was an international issue & needed to be dealt with on an international level, if there was to be any traction.

Following Sunday’s poll, a coalition dominated by Syriza is now leading Greece. Its charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras hass already made his views on the Parthenon Marbles known a few weeks ago.

Today, the re-organisation of various government departments was announced, along with the naming of the new Culture Minister – Nikos Xydakis, who is already relatively well known to many in Greece as a political commentator in Kathimerini.

It will be interesting to see in the coming weeks how he feels that the Parthenon Marbles issue should be handled by Greece.

Greek culture minister Nikos Xydakis

Greek culture minister Nikos Xydakis

January 26, 2015

Greek government receives money from Germany

Posted at 1:56 pm in Similar cases

Not the headline you were expecting given the current political events.

Actually, its some much older looted coins, which were smuggled out of the country 7 seized from a car en-route to Munich.

Ancient Greek coins repatriated by Germany

Ancient Greek coins repatriated by Germany

From:
Greek Reporter

Repatriation of 2,607 Seized Ancient Greek Coins From Germany
by A. Makris – Jan 24, 2015

A total of 2,607 ancient coins seized on September 9, 2011, in the luggage of a Greek citizen travelling by car to Munich have been repatriated from Germany, according to a Greek Culture Ministry announcement.

Members of an antiquities smuggling criminal organization dismantled in March 2012 were involved in the case.
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January 22, 2015

The Parthenon Marbles debate – who owns the sculptures?

Posted at 9:58 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

The Parthenon Marbles have managed to hit the headlines many times in the past year, for a variety of reasons.

Robert Fulford’s article looks at some of the reasons for this, along with the arguments from both sides. This blog gets a mention too – for its “witty and trenchant” opinions.

Part of the Parthenon frieze in the British Museum

Part of the Parthenon frieze in the British Museum

From:
National Post

The marble mouth debate over who really owns ancient Athens’ classics
Robert Fulford
January 20, 2015 12:14 PM ET

Last week, in the middle of an election campaign, the Greek parliament abruptly turned its attention to ancient Athenian culture. An opposition member, Tasos Kourakis, from the left-radical party that’s expected to win the election on Jan. 25, complained that Greek children are being badly educated on Lord Elgin and the marbles he stole from Athens and sold to the British Museum.

A Greek school textbook, used for the last 10 years, says the sculptures were “transported” to Britain. That’s wrong, Kourakis said. “The Elgin Marbles, gentlemen of the ministry of education, were not ‘transported’ but snatched by force.” For decades Greece has been demanding that Britain return the sculptures to Athens, a demand politicians treat as a centerpiece of national pride.
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SCOTUS rules against Norton Simon Museum looted art apeal

Posted at 9:35 pm in Similar cases

The United States Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Norton Simon Museum, which aimed to prevent a court case brought by the heir of Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker.

The appeal claimed that the claims made by the heir (Marei von Saher) conflicted with the US policy of resolving war-related art disputes and therefore with its right to conduct foreign affairs. The rejection of their appeal clears the way for von Saher to bring litigation against the institution, in an attempt to rectify the consequences of the forced transaction with Göring during the war.

You can read some more information about the background to the case here.

Adam and Eve, 1530, by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Adam and Eve, 1530, by Lucas Cranach the Elder

From:
Art Newspaper

By Laura Gilbert. Web only
Published online: 20 January 2015
Supreme Court rejects Norton Simon’s appeal in looted art case

The US Supreme Court today, 20 January, declined to hear the Pasadena-based Norton Simon Museum’s appeal in a case contesting its ownership of a life-size pair of paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Adam and Eve, around 1530, belonged to the Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker, who fled the Netherlands in 1940 after the Nazi invasion.

The Supreme Court’s rejection allows Goudstikker’s heir, Marei von Saher, who has been battling for the paintings in federal court since 2007, to continue her lawsuit. It also leaves standing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that pursuing her claims does not interfere with the US government’s conduct of foreign affairs.
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January 20, 2015

Candlelit vigil for Parthenon Marbles outside Acropolis Museum

Posted at 2:04 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Hundreds gathered outside the Acropolis Museum on Sunday 18th January, for a candlelit vigil in support of the return of the Parthenon Marbles.

The event was organised jointly by the President of the Central Union of Greek Municipalities (KEDE), Mayor of Maroussi, George Patoulis and the Mayor of Marathon, Elias Psinakis.

From:
Greek Reporter

Greeks Hold Candlelight Vigil for Parthenon Marbles
by Philip Chrysopoulos
Jan 19, 2015

Despite the rain, hundreds of Greeks gathered outside the Acropolis Museum on Sunday to hold a candlelight vigil asking Britain for the return of the Parthenon sculptures.

The rally was organized by President of the Central Union of Greek Municipalities (KEDE) and Mayor of Maroussi George Patoulis and the Mayor of Marathon Elias Psinakis. It was an event that took place in several historic cities and municipalities throughout Greece.
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January 14, 2015

The Parthenon Marbles – transported or stolen?

Posted at 2:05 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Greece’s Education Ministry plans to stop using an art history book, which describes the Parthenon Marbles as having been transported to England, rather than giving more detail of how Lord Elgin removed them from the country, in circumstances of questionable legality, which are still disputed today.

It appears that in large part, the reason for making this decision now, is due to the fact that there is an upcoming general election in the country, and that the wording in this book was recently drawn to public attention by a politician from the main opposition party.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Wednesday Jan 14, 2015
Education Ministry to scrap schoolbook with ‘monstrous’ Marbles reference

Greece’s Education Ministry plans to scrap an art history schoolbook which was recently criticized of misrepresenting the history of the the 5th-century B.C. Parthenon Marbles, now housed in the British Museum.

Education Minister Andreas Loverdos said the book with the “monstrous reference” would no longer be used at schools as of next year, while teachers across the country had received instructions on how to correctly present the subject.
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January 13, 2015

Why Britain should return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece

Posted at 1:52 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

In the wake of the British Museum’s loan of one of the Parthenon Sculptures to Russia, Lawyer Leila Amineddoleh outlines why she thinks that now is the time for Britain to return the sculptures to Greece.

Part of the Parthenon Marbles, the British Museum plans to loan the river-god Ilissos to the Hermitage in St Petersburg

Part of the Parthenon Marbles, the British Museum plans to loan the river-god Ilissos to the Hermitage in St Petersburg

From:
Forbes

12/23/2014 @ 3:22PM 3,719 views
The British Museum Should Return The Parthenon Marbles To Greece
Guest post written by Leila Amineddoleh

Ms. Amineddoleh, partner at Galluzzo & Amineddoleh, is executive director of Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation.

On December 5, the British Museum announced that it would loan a piece of the Elgin Marbles to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg to memorialize its 250thbirthday. Although intended as a kind gesture to Russia, it was also a stinging insult to Greece—the country has been requesting the return of the Elgin Marbles for decades.

(Disclaimer: This article was not written on behalf of the LCCHP.)

The Parthenon Marbles, a group of sculptures, statues, inscriptions and architectural elements depicting scenes from Greek mythology, were once part of the Parthenon. Built in 5th century BC to honor Athena, the temple has become one of the most recognized symbols of Western Civilization and is regarded as the highest architectural achievement of the Ancient Greeks.
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George Clooney reiterates support for Parthenon Marbles return

Posted at 1:37 pm in Elgin Marbles

George Clooney’s views on the Parthenon Marbles first came to public attention a year ago, while answering questions at the launch of the film Monuments Men.

At the Golden Globe awards, he reiterated that this is still a campaign that he strongly supports.

From:
Greek Reporter

Exclusive Video: George Clooney Talks Parthenon Marbles from the Golden Globes
by Anastasios Papapostolou – Jan 12, 2015

George Clooney stressed the need for the Parthenon Marbles to be reunited and return home to Greece from the 2015 Golden Globe Awards.

Responding to Greek Reporter’s question, Clooney said that it’s a matter of time for the Parthenon Marbles to be back home.
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January 9, 2015

Greece drags heels over sculpture loans to British Museum

Posted at 2:03 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Following their decision to loan one of the Parthenon Sculptures to Russia, The British Museum is now experiencing a lot of difficulty in obtaining a loan of a sculpture from Greece.

Previously, the British Museum had a relatively close museum with the Museum of Cycladic Art, a privately run institution in Athens. Now though, it appears that in retaliation for their behaviour with the loan to Russia, it is going to be more difficult for them to obtain temporary loans from Greece in the future.

Part of the Parthenon Marbles, the British Museum plans to loan the river-god Ilissos to the Hermitage in St Petersburg

Part of the Parthenon Marbles, the British Museum plans to loan the river-god Ilissos to the Hermitage in St Petersburg

From:
The Art Newspaper

Greece baulks on art loan after Parthenon Marbles row
British Museum still waiting to hear on its request for a sculpture from Athens
By Martin Bailey. Web only
Published online: 06 January 2015

The British Museum’s decision to send a piece of the Parthenon marbles to Russia has delayed a loan from Greece of a key antiquity for a forthcoming exhibition on classical sculpture. A British Museum spokeswoman confirmed that “we have requested to borrow” an important work from the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens for the show, “Defining Beauty: the Body in ancient Greek Art” (6 March-5 July). She says the Greek museum has not yet decided on the loan request.

The British Museum currently has 24 items on loan to the Museum of Cycladic Art, and curatorial relations between them are friendly. The fact that the loan has not been formally agreed is because of tensions with the Greek government after one of the Parthenon Marbles, the headless figure of the river god Ilissos, was sent to the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg in December. Antonis Samaras, the Greek prime minister, described the loan, the first time one of the sculptures has left Britain since they were controversially taken from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, as “an affront to the Greek people”.
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