Much loved British actor, writer and broadcaster Stephen Fry urged Britain to be ‘classy’ and return the Parthenon Sculptures, aka ”Elgin Marbles” to Greece, reported The Times.
Fry, who made the comments at the Hay Festival, reportedly said that taking the ‘Elgin Marbles’ from occupied Greece was like an American taking the Eiffel Tower from Paris when the city was under German occupation and mocked the British Museum’s that the sculptures were acquired legally:
“We got it legally from the Turks . . . who were an occupying force”.
“It would be as if our Stonehenge and Big Ben and the Stone of Scone all in one had been missing from our country for hundreds of years and was finally returned to where it belonged,” Fry told the Hay Festival.
Fry went on to say, something he has repeatedly mentioned, that the return of the ‘marbles” to Greece “would be an act that uses a word that we haven’t been able to use of Britain’s acts lately, much: it would be classy” in sharp contrast to Lord Elgin’s original act of vandalism:
“He ordered some saws and literally hacked them away,” Fry said. “If he had permission the only evidence of any permission was that he might take tracings of them to make casts, to make moulds, and to pick up anything that was already on the ground. But he brought in saws and hacked out huge elements, and took them to Britain.”
“Even if he did, it was an occupying power, not the Greeks themselves, who granted it to him,” Fry said.
“It’s like if an American said, ‘Yeah, in 1941 I bought the Eiffel Tower off the German occupiers in Paris at the time.’ And when the French say can we have it back, ‘No, I got it fair and square, it’s mine.’ That’s what the British Museum has been saying: it’s ours, we got it legally — from the Turks, who were an occupying force.”
Fry, 64, added: “The British Museum has put up all kinds of excuses, none of which are good enough. Firstly that they have the proper right to it, secondly if they hadn’t looked after it they would have been in worse condition, which may be true but that’s still no reason to keep hold of it.
“If your friend has a fire in their house and you take their painting so that they don’t burn down, you can’t then say I’m keeping them for ever because unless I’d kept them they’d be burnt — they may as well have been burnt then.”