Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called on the British government to find a way to share the Parthenon Sculptures with their homeland, Greece.
The sculptures were removed from the Acropolis in Athens over 200 years ago by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799-1803, which occupied Greece from 1458 -1820s.
The British Museum says that Elgin acquired the artefacts legally, after being given a permit by Ottoman leaders giving him permission to take them.
Greece, however, disagrees and has repeatedly asked that the stolen artefacts be returned to their rightful home in Greece.
Khan said that he agrees with the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Chairman of the Trustees of the British Museum, George Osborne, who recently said that the organisation should "find a way to share" the ancient sculptures.
"I think it’s important to have these discussions," he said.
"I think generally speaking discussion is always good and dialogue is always good and it’s refreshing to hear the British Museum talking in this way.
"I’d really encourage the British Museum, the British government and the government of Greece and the relevant appropriate place – the museum in Athens – to talk about how we can make progress on this issue.
"I want them to stay in our city, but why can’t we share them?" Khan asked.
"Why can’t we work with other cities across the globe to have a situation where people, who can’t come to London, can’t enjoy the wonderful British Museum, can enjoy seeing some of this stuff in other places as well?"
Public institutions around the world are facing increasing pressure to re-evaluate their collections and Khan believes that the UK should take note of this lesson to return ancient artefacts to their origin.\
In October, it was announced that a 19th Century bronze statue which was looted from Nigeria before being given to Cambridge University would be returned home.
Mr Khan told Huff Post that agreeing on the fate of the marbles with Mr Osborne was "probably the end of my career".
"There’s no reason at all why we can’t show the strength of our friendship with other countries, whether it’s Greece or what Germany has done to share some of this stuff," he said.
"We’ve treated it as a virility test, we equate it wrongly, in my view, with patriotism and it gets confused with nationalism.
"This sort of progressive conversation is what’s needed and I welcome George beginning the conversation.
"That’s the end of my career."
Khan is regularly named among the Top 100 London politicians in the London Evening Standard’s annual poll of the 1,000 most influential Londoners.