It seems that Hollywood actors have joined a dispute between Greece and the United Kingdom that began ever since parts of the Parthenon were removed by Lord Elgin, British ambassador to the Ottoman empire, over 200 years ago and shipped off to England.
American actor George Clooney was first to state that he believed the UK should “do the right thing” and return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. Mr. Clooney voiced his opinion at the Berlin Film Festival during a press conference on 8 February for his film The Monuments Men when he replied to a question asked by a Greek journalist .
The actor’s opinion hit a nerve in Britain and the story went viral. Mr. Clooney was then asked the same question again during a press conference held in London on 11 February.
“I did a little research just to make sure I wasn’t completely out of my mind. Even in England the polling is in favor of returning the Parthenon marbles,” the actor said.
He added that the issue is worth having an open discussion on.
Bill Murray: “Let art go back where it came from”
At the same press conference in London, Hollywood actor Bill Murray backed up his co-star.
Murray said: “It seems like it’s a problem all over the world. Who owns this art? Where it came from? Do they have the right to give it back? I think it has had a very nice stay here, certainly. London’s gotten crowded, there’s plenty of room back there in Greece, plenty of room. England can take a lead on this kind of thing … letting art go back where it came from.”
Comments on the Parthenon Marbles are after the first 10 minutes of the video and onwards.
Reactions from Greece, UK
When Mr. Clooney’s initial comments went public, Greek Culture Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos sent a letter to the actor and said he had the thanks of all Greeks for his solidarity. Mr. Panagiotopoulos underlined that the marbles should return to Greece “next to those sculptures from which they were so illegally and violently ripped apart.”
The British Museum, however, stands its ground. According to The Guardian, a spokeswoman said the sculptures should remain where they are today as the purpose of the British Museum is to “present the world to the world.”
Speaking to ABC News, a specialist in European sculptures, Danny Katz, said the Elgin Marbles should stay put. “They would not exist today if they were left where they were,” Mr. Katz said.
Also, London Mayor Boris Johnson slammed Mr. Clooney for his comments on the issue and claimed the actor “needs his marbles restored.”
George Clooney’s new film The Monuments Men, which refers to an American team of experts in arts sent by the Allies to try to save artifacts from being stolen by the Nazis, is now playing in Greek movie theaters.