Elgin Marbles set to LEAVE UK and return to Greece under new deal

George Osbourne: The Elgin Marbles could possibly be returned to Greece in a new deal
George Osbourne: The Elgin Marbles could possibly be returned to Greece in a new deal
Matthew Fearn
Georgina Cutler

By Georgina Cutler


Published: 04/01/2023

- 12:18

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 10:24

Discussions are ongoing between the British Museum and Greece over the return of the Elgin Marbles

Britain is set to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece after the British Museum held "constructive discussions" over a long term loan agreement.

British laws prevent antiquities from being given away by museums so the agreement would be a cultural exchange.


Former Chancellor, George Osbourne who is now the museum’s chairman, is thought to have arranged an agreement that would repatriate the marbles after 200 years.

Sections of the Parthenon Marbles in London's British Museum.  The current Lord Elgin, ancestor of Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire between 1803 and 1812 who originally brought the marbles to Britain, claimed today on BBC Radio Four's Today programme, that the Greeks could not be trusted to look after the marbles if returned to their country of origin. The British Museum, which houses the stones, has refused to hand them over despite a campaign which has been running for more than 40 years, that has recently won the backing of public figures including Dame Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave and Julie Christie.
The marbles have been housed in the British Museum for 200 years
Matthew Fearn

The move from London to Athens could be “sooner rather than later” according to the Daily Telegraph.

Under the agreement objects would be lent to the British Museum in exchange for other ancient Greek treasures.

A British Museum spokesman said: “We’ve said publicly we’re actively seeking a new Parthenon partnership with our friends in Greece and, as we enter a new year, constructive discussions are ongoing.”

Last month, Osborne held talks with the Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitostakis to mediate the return of the marbles.

He also met with two senior Greek ministers in London following his appointment as chairman and indicated last June he was prepared to shift from a hardline approach.

The former chancellor said there was a deal to be done over the marbles if Britain and Greece “approach this without a load of preconditions”.

The marble frieze was removed from the Parthenon in Athens in 1801-12 under the order of 7th Earl of Elgin.

Chancellor George Osbourne at the 2015 Tour de France following Stage Twenty One of the 2015 Tour de France between Sevres and Paris Champs-Elysees.
Chairman at the British Museum, George Osbourne has held talks with Greece
Mike Egerton

He sold the marbles to the British government in 1816 and their ownership was transferred to the British Museum’s trustees.

The Greek government made their first formal request for the return of the marbles in 1983.

A total of 17 pedimental figures and more than 75 metres of the Parthenon frieze are housed at the British Museum.

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