Amid revelations of a significant theft of objects from the British Museum, Greek authorities are leveraging the situation to advocate for the repatriation of the Parthenon Sculptures. The disappearance of these items has prompted discussions about security concerns and has reinvigorated Greece's demand for the return of the Marbles.
Lina Mendoni, Greece's Minister of Culture, emphasized the need for the permanent return of the Parthenon Marbles due to the security issues highlighted by the theft. These concerns have further fueled the ongoing campaign to repatriate the Parthenon Sculptures from the British Museum, where they have been held since their removal from the Acropolis of Athens in the early 19th century.
The British Museum, which has consistently declined Greece's requests for repatriation, faces mounting international pressure for cultural institutions to address colonial legacies in their collections. The discussion around the missing objects underscores the credibility of museum organisations when such security breaches occur internally.
Lina Mendoni stated that the Greek Ministry of Culture is closely monitoring the situation. Last week, the British Museum revealed the dismissal of an employee in connection with the theft of valuable items, including jewellery and gems spanning centuries. The institution announced plans to pursue legal action and initiated an investigation by the Economic Crime Command of the Metropolitan Police.
Subsequent reports identified the fired employee as Peter John Higgs, a senior curator of Greek and Roman art with a 30-year tenure at the museum. Higgs is suspected of orchestrating the thefts over an extended period.
Notably, numerous stolen items were found listed for sale on eBay, often at significantly reduced prices compared to their true value. A piece of Roman jewellery with an estimated value of £25,000 to £50,000 was offered for just £40 in 2016. Reports suggest that the number of stolen items could range between 1,500 and 2,000.
These revelations come shortly after the announcement of the impending departure of the museum's director, Hartwig Fischer, and raise questions about its connection to the thefts. Some speculate that Fischer's resignation may be related, while others call for his immediate resignation.
The museum's response to the situation has been cautious, declining to comment on the thefts beyond the initial announcement. The events have also prompted scrutiny of the museum's handling of the matter, with accusations of attempts to conceal the issue.
As discussions continue, the focus on the stolen objects has reinvigorated the debate surrounding the Parthenon Sculptures, amplifying Greece's calls for their repatriation from the British Museum.