Advanced search

To think that the UK could offer to buy the Elgin Marables off the Greek govement

(16 Posts)
ReallyTired Mon 09-Feb-15 11:53:14

Years ago the Elgin Marbles were stolen from Greece and given to Elgin. Understandably the Greeks want them back. (I think the Turks orgninally stole them.)

I think that the Greeks do have a case for demanding the marbles back as they were not the Turks to give.

At the moment the Greeks are in dire straits financially. They are wanting financial aid from a lot of countries. They have impossible loans that they have no hope of repaying. Could the Greeks have some of their debt written off in return for letting the Marbles tour all the major European museums? The Marables would be the property of the EU rather than the property of Greece. The marables could spend six months in each member state in rotation.

I realise that someone would say that the marbles are priceless, but autesity is causing terrible hardship in Greece.

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 09-Feb-15 12:00:00

I don't think Greece would accept an offer, that's the thing. They want the Elgin Marbles back.

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 09-Feb-15 12:00:23

It is a good idea though.

TheFairyBlackstick Mon 09-Feb-15 12:02:12

The marbles have already been paid for: Lord Elgin bought them for the (then) enormous sum of £39,000 from the government of the day.

MoanCollins Mon 09-Feb-15 12:02:47

They wouldn't accept payment for it, they want them back. Plus I would rather we used our public funds to feed and shelter poor people in the UK than make an unnecessary payment to assist people who are largely authors of their own problems.

Tobyjugg Mon 09-Feb-15 12:05:55

We've already paid for them. The Greeks have no case. Having said that, if the Greeks can fix it with the French so we can have the Bayeux Tapestry back, maybe we could do a deal.

The serious issue is, if the marbles do go back, where does it stop? Everyone has something of everyone else's. The finest collection of English 17th century silver in existence is in the Kremlin. So what? The great collections of the world would be ripped apart and how does that benefit anyone apart from some dodgy politicians playing the nationalist card.

askyfullofstars Mon 09-Feb-15 12:06:01

My understanding fairy, is that Lord Elgin bought them from someone who didn’t actually own them, they were not theirs to sell. A bit like your neighbour selling your shed while you are at work but then not being able to get it back as someone had bought it and so it now belonged to them. It doesn’t really, its still your shed as it wasn’t your neighbours to sell in the first place.

OfaFrenchMind Mon 09-Feb-15 12:08:44

I think you may have to empty the British Museum if you follow this train of thoughts...
Tbh, I am not sure they would not sell it back to a private collector to scrap back some money, so I would not bother.

TheFairyBlackstick Mon 09-Feb-15 12:15:11

OP, Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire from the mid 15th Century until 1821.

Tobyjugg Mon 09-Feb-15 12:16:07

The issue was not who sold them, rather that Elgin's permit only allowed him to remove statues revealed by excavation, not by hacking them off a standing building.

The matter was debated in Parliament before the UK Govt. agreed to buy them.

Samcro Mon 09-Feb-15 12:19:32

so you want this country to buy something whilst we are being told we are broke.

TheFairyBlackstick Mon 09-Feb-15 12:25:39

That's right Toby and evidently he was not considered to be exceeding his permit, since it took hundreds of workmen several years to take the the sculptures from what was a military base and load them onto ships in full view of the authorities.

Tobyjugg Mon 09-Feb-15 12:28:38

The Turks were using the Parthenon as a powder magazine, IIRC.

ReallyTired Mon 09-Feb-15 12:35:28


Lots of EU countries have contributed to the bail fund for Greece including us. Bailing out EU banks is part of the reason why the UK has been short of money. If we stand little chance of getting our money back then we might as well keep the marbles.

FyreFly Mon 09-Feb-15 13:30:57

This is the thing - you say yourself that the Greeks are in "dire straits financially", and you are completely correct.

Given that fact, how on earth would they expect to care for, conserve and properly display the marbles? Granted there is the remodelled Acropolis Museum which is fairly up-to-date, but you need to staff it and maintain it. Our major museums are struggling enough already, and the UK is in a considerably better state than Greece is.

The argument over the ownership and location of the marbles is of course much, much more convoluted and complex than that, but if I was their curator at the BM I would want considerable proof that Greece can care for them properly before any negotiations can begin.

I also agree with Tobyjuggs argument. I love the fact that I live in the UK, yet I can study collections (ceramics and stone, in my case, although nothing quite so fine as the Elgin Marbles!) from all over the world. I love the fact that I don't have to go to France to see French art, and that I don't have to go to the US to look at Native American work. I love the fact that I can take my little cousin to learn about ancient Egypt and Rome without having to book a plane ticket. I love the fact that I can AFFORD to see them. If we only have our own country's artefacts in our museums, we lose so much (this goes both ways, by the way, we need to loan objects abroad too!).

Personally, if it was up to me, I would have the Elgin Marbles on a worldwide tour, ending at Greece, where they would stay for a long-term loan (5 years?) with a very, very tight contract. Sadly I suspect however that if they were loaned to Greece we would never get them back, despite hefty legal agreements.

I do think the decision to loan some of the marbles to the Hermitage, fantastic facility though it is, at this point in time was a bit insensitive.

Nomama Mon 09-Feb-15 13:57:11


Dear Sir/Madam,
I am the Worldwide Comptroller for the Urgent Return to Country of Origin of All Antiquities.

You all, as individuals, businesses and governments, have 48 hours to check all of your possessions and to send me a wholly accurate list as to the whereabouts of any artefact that is more than 100 years old.

My office will then identify all artefacts that must be returned to their country of origin. You will have no recourse to the department for decisions made, we are the law in this matter. All artefacts will be repatriated within 5 working days of notice being given, fines may be levied for late return.

Artefacts for repatriation may include, but are not restricted to:
Portions of buildings
Remains, cremains, death masks etc
Bits found in the sand, on the beach, just knocking around
Stuff bought cheap ain any suk, or other market place
All of those nice little pieces of 'stuff' brought home for the Grand Tour (unless they were knockoffs - then again they too fall under the age restriction).
Owt else any other government can identify and demand back

Please do not consider hiding any artefact, we do have Right of Entry to any property we believe to be harbouring Ancient Artefact Wanted by Someone Else.

Yours Self Aggrandisingly,
The Chief Getter Backerer
The World
The Universe
And Everything

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: