Culture Minister to Boris Johnson: Parthenon sculptures acquired by Lord Elgin illegally

Parthenon sculptures

New historical data about the Parthenon sculptures provides evidence their acquisition by Lord Elgin was not legitimate and that the British Museum is not legally entitled to them, Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a statement issued on Friday.

Responding to statements by the UK's prime minister to the Greek daily Ta Nea, the minister's full letter says the following:

"Statement by the Minister of Culture and Sports on the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures.

"Upon careful review of the statements made by UK Prime Minister, Mr. Boris Johnson, it is clear that he has not been properly informed by the competent state services of his country of the new historical data regarding Greece’s occupation by the Ottomans that show that there was never a legitimate acquisition of the Parthenon sculptures by Lord Elgin and, therefore, neither has the British Museum ever acquired the Sculptures in a legitimate manner. The Ministry of Culture and Sports can provide the necessary documentary evidence that can inform the British people that the British Museum possesses the sculptures illegally.

"For Greece, the British Museum does not have legitimate ownership or possession of the sculptures. The Parthenon, as a symbol of UNESCO and Western civilisation, reflects universal values. We are all obliged to work towards this direction."

Boris Johnson parthenon sculptures
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom says that that the 2,500-year-old Parthenon sculptures are “legally owned by the British Museum’s Trustees.” Photo from Instagram: @borisjohnsonuk

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