Hollywood star Liam Neeson has got involved in the Elgin Marbles debate by accusing Britain of ‘stealing’ the sculptures from Greece and insisting they should give them back.
The Elgin Marbles are a collection of ancient sculptures, inscriptions and architectural features that were acquired by Lord Elgin during his time as ambassador to the Ottoman court of the Sultan in Istanbul.
They were created in ancient Greece, in around 440BC according to historians.
Lord Elgin discovered them in Athens in the early 19th century and took them to Britain. He sold them to the British parliament in 1816 and they were then given to the British Museum.
In the main, they have remained there ever since, other than a few short-term loans to other leading museums.
Liam Neeson spoke to a Greek journalist about the matter recently and said: “The British must return them, full stop. Give them back from where they were stolen. They must be returned.”
He is not the first Hollywood giant to get involved in the debate. Last year George Clooney also said that Britain should return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. His wife, lawyer Amal Alamuddin, has been employed by the Greek authorities to evaluate their case and decide on the best course of action for them.
Greece has been trying to get the sculptures back for decades, believing they have a legitimate claim to ownership and that the rightful home of the artwork is at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.
However, as yet the British Museum has shown no signs of giving up the Elgin Marbles, which are a consistent source of lucrative exhibitions.
They have offered to loan the sculptures to Greece in the past, but the Greeks were unwilling as they thought it could be seen as an acceptance of British ownership.
The sculptures are currently still on display as part of the Defining Beauty: the Body in Greek Art exhibition at the British Museum.