Independent: British Museum offers to lend Elgin Marbles back to Greece

The British Museum has offered to discuss lending the Parthenon Marbles back to Greece, after the country rejected a request to take part in a United Nations mediation process about the contentious ownership of the 2,500-year-old sculptures, The Independent reports.

Britain’s rejection of arbitration talks brokered by the global heritage body Unesco could trigger legal action by Athens in an international court in an attempt to reclaim the ancient sculptures, depending on the outcome of advice from its team of high-profile lawyers including Geoffrey Robertson QC and Amal Clooney.

But in a letter to Unesco, Sir Richard Lambert, the chairman of the British Museum’s board of trustees, has offered to hold direct talks with the Acropolis Museum over the pieces held by the Bloomsbury Square institution.

“The British Museum has routinely lent to Greece…” Sir Richard wrote. “The scholars of the British Museum and of other institutions that hold Parthenon sculptures enjoy excellent collaborative relationships with Greek museums and universities. These have included collaboration on research projects, publications and exhibitions.”

“We would invite our colleagues in Greek museums … to explore new ways of enabling the whole world to see, study and enjoy the sculptures of the Parthenon.”

The Independent understands that this could extend to a loan agreement. But Athens has previously rejected such an idea, because this would involve the tacit acceptance of the British Museum’s claim of ownership over the ancient treasures, which many in Greece – and some in the UK – believe Lord Elgin essentially stole.

The Independent

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