The Greek Ministry of Culture announced that after a long legal battle, 351 looted antiquities ranging from the Neolithic to the Byzantine period will be returned to Greece. Additionally, numerous ceramic fragments will be repatriated. These pieces were part of the 25 lots owned by British art dealer Robin Symes, whose company is currently undergoing liquidation.
The Greek Minister of Culture, Lina Mendoni, detailed that the legal fight to recover these antiquities had lasted for 17 years. The collection includes notable pieces such as a Neolithic statue carved from white stone dating back to 4000 BC, a Cycladic figure dating from 3200 to 2700 BC, a damaged marble statue of a Kore from 550–500 BC, and a fragmented bronze statue depicting a young Alexander the Great from the second half of the 2nd century.
Greece has been striving to reclaim its looted artworks and antiquities scattered across museums and private collections worldwide. In March, three fragments of the Parthenon that had been held by the Vatican for over two centuries were returned to Greece in a gesture of friendship by Pope Francis. However, Greece’s main objective is to retrieve the Parthenon friezes from Athens, which are currently housed in the British Museum in London.
London argues that the sculptures were “legally acquired” in 1802 by British diplomat Lord Elgin, who later sold them to the museum. On the other hand, Greece maintains that they were looted during the period of Ottoman occupation. The restitution of the Parthenon friezes is a highly sensitive issue in Greece, and the Acropolis Museum has reserved an empty space in anticipation of their eventual return.
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