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The Met to Exhibit Greek Antiquities Before they Return to Greece Over Time

Cycladic objects from the Stern collection. Source: Greek Culture Ministry

Cycladic objects from the Stern collection. Source: Greek Culture Ministry

Over the next 25 years, some 161 Greek antiquities belonging to an American billionaire will gradually be returned to Greece but first will go on show at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met).

The Greek Culture Ministry announced the news after entering an agreement last week with the museum for the repatriation of the Greek art works which will begin after 2033 and will see 15 items returned to Greece every five years.

Opposition parties in Greece condemned the ministry for failing to take legal action.

The Early Bronze Age Cycladic art works dating back to 5300-2200 BC belong to the collection of US real estate developer Leonard N. Stern.

Under the agreement, 15 of the collection’s antiquities will temporarily be returned to Athens by October 15 and will go on show at the Museum of Cycladic Art in what Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni says will be the first presentation of the specific collection.

The collection of mostly marble art works including vases, jewellery and figurines, will then be exhibited at The Met from 2023 to 2048.

Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni.

Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni.

“Τhis is the largest collection of antiquities ever to be returned to Greece. A return without litigation which in many cases has substantial difficulties and an uncertain outcome,” said Mendoni after the ratification of the agreement in Greek parliament by majority vote.

Mendoni said Greece supported international “visibility of its culture”, adding that she was pleased that The Met will showcase the Greek language and the art of the Aegean, the Cyclades and the Cycladic civilization for 25 years.

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