Showing results 1 - 12 of 476 for the tag: Athens.

March 8, 2015

UK reluctant to enter Parthenon Marbles mediation process

Posted at 12:08 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

In September 2013, a request was made by Greece to Britain, to enter a mediation process to resolve the Parthenon Sculptures reunification issue. The process would take place via the snappily named Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation, a sub-committee of UNESCO.

The request for mediation marked a new step for Greece, and a clear realisation that small scale informal negotiations to resolve the issue were making little progress.

Since the request was issued, any appeals for updates have indicated that the British Government is still considering their response.

Last year, it was requested that a response would be made by 31st March 2015. However, government sources say that they are unable to make any significant announcement this side of the May election. We must bear in mind at this stage, that all current predictions are that there will be no clear majority in the May 2015 general election, so if not a change of government, at the very minimum, we can expect a significant restructuring of the coalition.

The British Government is clean to prevaricate over what is likely (according to all past policy indications) to be a negative response, but the reality is that any negative response might well be met by a stronger riposte from Greece.

For a number of years now, talks have taken place in secret in Greece regarding the possibility of some form of legal action over the Parthenon Marbles. These talks became more public when it became known that Amal Clooney was involved. As a side note, she was in fact involved all along – I have had sight of confidential papers that her name is ascribed to, from early 2011. Previously though, the lawyers were able to operate beneath the radar though, whereas Amal’s new found fame means that this is no longer such a simple proposition.

The likelihood of litigation is increased by the recent news that even if there Greek Government does not have the money to invest in this sort of venture, there are others who are happy to do so on their behalf.

What this leads on to, is that it is clear that Greece is considering other options. If their mediation request is rebuffed, they are not going to just drop the issue, but have fall back options, that could be a lot less palatable than mediation.

It is unclear, whether after an initial rejection of the mediation request, the offer to enter into the process would still be open to Britain.

Meanwhile, the British Museum, while unwilling to invest efforts in actual negotiations seems to have been taking measures to try & prop up their own back story behind why retention of the sculptures is a good idea. The first step was the rather controversial and secretive loan of one of the sculptures to the Hermitage in St Petersburg, which was announced to much fanfare in The Times. The second step is the commissioning of a rather narrowly focussed poll, aimed at giving the impression that those in the industry were entirely favourable of return (well they would say that wouldn’t they).

These moves are indicative that the British Museum is no longer sitting quite as comfortably as it once was. It is trying to make its position more secure, yet the loan to the Hermitage seems to have done exactly the opposite, with many former retentionists being strongly critical of the Museum’s actions.

It is clear that we are entering a new chapter in Greece’s quest for the return of the sculptures – one that has move on from informal applications to something much more structured. The stakes may be higher for both sides, but the aggressive responses from the British Museum indicate that the Greek approach seems to be having some sort of success. My hope is that the new SYRIZA led coalition is willing to keep up the pressure, rather than making a complete change of policy.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

From:
Independent

Elgin Marbles row: Greece tells British Government to stop stonewalling on return of Parthenon sculptures
Ian Johnston
Saturday 07 March 2015

The Government is refusing to negotiate with Greece about the return of the so-called Elgin Marbles despite a request to do so from the United Nations, a decision that could prompt Athens to begin legal action for the first time.

British campaigners likened the UK’s stance to “clinging on to stolen booty for dear life” and contrasted it with the “generous act” of returning the sculptures to help a friendly country on the brink of economic collapse. Youth unemployment has hit 50 per cent and suicide rates have soared amid a crisis so severe the Financial Times has warned Greece could turn into a “quasi slave economy”.
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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 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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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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December 14, 2014

Other Parthenon Marbles loans planned – Russia is just the start

Posted at 9:31 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

In a move calculated to rachet up levels of Greek anger, Neil MacGregor has indicated that the loan of one of the Parthenon Sculptures to Russia is just the start of a larger plan.

Far from being the only time that one of the Parthenon Sculptures will leave the British Museum, he sees this as just the start, with them being lent to other institutions around the world. Apparently, some talks with other museums are already underway.

It seems that MacGregor is desperate to try & prove to Greece that if you [play by his rules, then anyone who asks is free to borrow one of the centrepieces of the British Museum’s collection. The question remains though – why should Greece stoop down & make concessions that they believe to be untrue, weakening their own case, while at the same time the British Museum concedes nothing.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

From:
Daily Telegraph

British Museum to send more Elgin Marbles abroad despite Greek anger
Museum director Neil MacGregor says “conversations are in train” about loaning more disputed Parthenon masterpieces to world museums
By Tom Parfitt, St Petersburg
5:40PM GMT 06 Dec 2014

The director of the British Museum has said it is already in talks to loan more Elgin Marbles to foreign museums.

Neil MacGregor told The Telegraph that the negotiations would continue despite the angry reaction from the government of Greece this week when it emerged that the museum was lending one of the Marbles – a headless statue of the river god, Ilissos – to the State Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia.
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Against return of Marbles to Greece, but against loan to Russia

Posted at 9:18 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Neil MacGregor believes that everyone, Greeks & British alike, should be enthused with his decision to loan a Parthenon Sculpture to Russia.

It seems though, that even those who have in the past argued against the return of the sculptures to Greece, also believe that the loan to Russia is ill thought out.

Visitors look at a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

Visitors look at a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

From:
The Scotsman

06 December 2014
Comment: Elgin marbles are not political pawns
by TIFFANY JENKINS

“A HIGHLY provocative, unfortunate and very rude gesture”, is how David Hill, from the campaign to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece, described, on the Today programme, the loan of one of the sculptures to the State Hermitage Museum in Russia.

It’s not often news about old marble hits the headlines, but these 2,500-year-old sculptures, taken by the Scot, Thomas Bruce, seventh Earl of Elgin and 11th Earl of Kincardine, are exceptional – the greatest works of art in human history.
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December 13, 2014

Parthenon sculpture Hermitage loan – readers respond

Posted at 2:46 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

As one would expect, the controversial move by the British Museum to lend one of the Parthenon Marbles to Russia has illicited a number of responses from newspaper readers.

Visitors passing a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

Visitors passing a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

From:
Guardian

Squalid saga of Parthenon marbles loan to Russia
Sunday 7 December 2014

In loaning the Parthenon marbles statue of Ilissos to Russia (Loan shatters Elgin marbles claim, says Athens, 6 December), the British Museum has acted insensitively and foolishly. It is unseemly and squalid, after unanswered Greek requests for the marbles’ return, for the statue’s first move outside Britain to be to a country we ourselves have placed under sanctions after the invasion of Ukraine. At a stroke the museum has legitimised Putin’s Russia at a time when the latter’s unpredictable aggression threatens Ukraine’s existence and Europe’s wider security.

Does the museum think itself exempt from the dynamics of contemporary European politics, and that cultural diplomacy will smooth over the current crisis? Consider this: right now the Netherlands is refusing to return Scythian gold, loaned before the illegal annexation of Crimea, to four museums now under Russian control there. What is to stop Russia holding Ilissos hostage in return? In April the Russian Itar-Tass agency reported that the refusal to return the gold would result in non-cooperation between Russian and EU museums. The British Museum may well have placed one of its most priceless artefacts in serious danger. Putin has shown himself indifferent about far more.
Tony King
Barnt Green, Worcestershire
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Supporters of the British Museum’s Russian Marbles loan

Posted at 1:12 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Continuing my coverage of the loan of a Parthenon sculpture to Russia by the British Museum, here are some of the articles that express support for this move.

They range from the incorrect and naive (Dominic Selwood). Does anyone really believe that if the Greeks did what the British Museum asked then the marbles would return just like that? Firstly, there is the question of why they should endorse an assertion that they fundamentally believe is untrue. But, there is also the suspicion that when dealing with the British Museum, you are pressured to relinquish some of your position, yet end up getting nothing in return. Mr Selwood also seems to be forgetting how badly his point of view is out of synch with public opinion – as evidenced by the catastrophically low levels of endorsement of his arguments in a recent Prospect Magazine poll.

Next come the barking mad – in this instance represented by London’s mayor Borris Johnson, who has regularly in the past chosen to express how much he loves the marbles being in the British Museum, purely for his own benefit so that he can visit them more easily.

Finally there is the the indignant – incredulous querying of why the Greeks do not support this move in the same way as the British museum does, followed by tales of how they should be proud of it rather than complaining. Fairly predictably, this argument is represented its creator, Neil MacGregor. I’m sure that in the days when Britain had an empire, that this approach of telling people to feel thankful might have worked. Those days are long since gone though and countries and their peoples are more than capable of forming their own opinions on topics, without needing to take into account the instructions of those who believe the viewpoint they hold is somehow superior.

Looking at the source of the bulk of these articles, it could almost be argued though, that they are all merely manifestations of the Daily Telegraph viewpoint – that the Marbles must stay, so therefore any argument that backs this is therefore a valid one.

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:
Daily Telegraph

The Greeks can have the Elgin Marbles any time they like – if they play by the rules
The decision to lend a piece of the Elgin Marbles to Russia has nothing to do with Greece’s absurd campaign for their return
By Dominic Selwood
3:47PM GMT 05 Dec 2014

Today, everyone should be celebrating, including the Greeks. The Trustees of the British Museum have lent Russia’s stupendous State Hermitage Museum the statue of Ilissos, one of the jewels of the Parthenon sculptures. It is a new chapter in the history of these amazing sculptures, and one that underscores the promotion of education, culture, and understanding that the British Museum has always undertaken with its collections. Now citizens of Russia can also experience the wonder of this exquisite ancient art. This is a great day for Britain, Russia, and Greece.

The decision to lend the sculptures to Russia should not be seen as having anything to do with Greece’s claims over them. Despite the ongoing barrage of emotive complaints from supporters of the repatriation of the sculptures to Greece, the fact is that there is nothing that puts the British Museum’s Parthenon sculptures into a special heritage category. World museums routinely hold and exhibit artefacts from other countries. It is what they are there for, and is at the heart of their educational purpose. Stolen or illegitimate antiquities are required to be returned. Legitimate acquisitions can remain. No one seriously doubts that the Parthenon sculptures are the legal possession of the British Museum.
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December 11, 2014

Can Russia be trusted to return Parthenon sculpture to Britain?

Posted at 1:06 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

This post continues my thematic reproduction of articles on the recent loan of a Parthenon sculpture to the Hermitage in St Petersburg by the British Museum.

The gist of these three articles is whether or not Putin’s Russia can be trusted to return the sculpture to Britain. Beyond that starting point though, the argument can follow various possible routes.

A lot of the reasoning here is directed at Russia rather than the Hermitage – however, in many cases, if a country wants to over-ride the wishes of its museums, it can do so fairly easily.

There are various other possible arguments that have not been put forward in these articles. One possible line of thinking is that Russia might return the sculpture to Greece – in order to gain an ally in the EU. The two countries have in common their heritage of Orthodox Christianity, but that is about as far as it goes. If Greece was to push for, or accept such an offer, it might well jeopardise their future bids to retrieve the remainder of the sculptures in the British Museum, so would not necessarily be in their interest.

Putin has in the past displayed clear support for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures in Athens, stating that “The Greeks are trying to bring back what belongs not only to them but to all humanity. This shows that your efforts are to your [the Greeks] credit and we [the Russians] will support you in this.“. He also noted that “various conquerors had attempted to remove and appropriate parts of the Parthenon” which was “one of the most outstanding monuments of humanity

I have to say though, that past experience with some of the news sources involved here leads me to doubt the likelihood of some of these stories actually turning out to be any more than just speculation.

On a separate note, it is disappointing (but not surprising) to see that Neil MacGregor continues to make the assertion that Greece has never asked for a loan of the sculptures – something that has already been proved incorrect by this post I made a few days ago.

It is also interesting to see that the Director of the Hermitage, Mikhail Piotrovskiy, describes the loan as an important artistic and political gesture. This directly contradicts what the British Museum told me on twitter – that “Being independent of government, we work directly with museums so that dialogues can develop free from political considerations“. So is what they are doing a political gesture or not? I think most would argue that whether or not it is the intention to deny political involvement, this doesn’t necessarily make the gesture apolitical.

Visitors look at a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

Visitors look at a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

From:
Daily Mail

Fears raised that Elgin Marbles sculpture sent to Russia ‘won’t be sent back’ – as British Museum claims Greece has never formally asked for them to be returned
By Jenny Awford for MailOnline
Published: 11:49, 6 December 2014 | Updated: 15:32, 6 December 2014

Fears are growing for the safety of part of the Elgin marbles loaned to Russia, as British museum trustees admitted they were worried the sculpture might not come back.

The unveiling of the headless statue of Greek river-god Ilissos at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg yesterday prompted a furious diplomatic row with Greece.
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