ATHENS – Actor and filmmaker George Clooney was featured once again for his support of the return of the Parthenon Marbles after comments he made to chair of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles Janet Suzman were reported by the Greek newspaper Ta Nea which noted that Clooney told Suzman that “the Parthenon Sculptures must be returned to their original owner,” The Art Newspaper (TAN) reported on March 8.
Suzman “confirmed to TAN that Clooney made the comments (the actor could not be reached for comment at the time of writing),” TAN reported, adding that “earlier this year, Clooney wrote to Suzman, saying: ‘There are a lot of historical artifacts that should be returned to their original owners, but none more important than the Parthenon Marbles.’”
“During a trip to Berlin in February 2014 to promote the film The Monuments Men, Clooney stated that the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Greece,” TAN reported.
“It is the right thing to do,” Clooney said at that time, TAN reported, adding that “the actor’s comments drew criticism from Boris Johnson, the then-mayor of London, who said Clooney was ‘advocating nothing less than the Hitlerian agenda for London's cultural treasures.’”
“At the time, Clooney’s wife, the human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, was advising Greece on the return of the marbles,” TAN reported.
The Greek government “did not pursue her counsel to take up the matter in British courts,” Architectural Digest (AD) reported on March 12 in an article on Clooney’s passion for the return of the marbles.
“The fifth-century-BC statues have been housed in the British Museum since 1816 after they were removed from the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis in Athens by the Scottish nobleman Lord Elgin, the then-Ottoman ambassador,” TAN reported.
“In an online statement, the trustees of the British Museum say that Elgin acted with the full knowledge and permission of the legal authorities of the day in both Athens and London,” TAN reported.
“The sculptures on display in London convey huge public benefit as part of the museum's worldwide collection,” the statement continues, reiterating “that the trustees have never been asked for a loan of the Parthenon sculptures by Greece, ‘only for the permanent removal of all of the sculptures in its care to Athens,’” TAN reported.
“Last year, concerns were raised over whether the ancient Greek sculptures would be used as a bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations,” TAN reported.
“Flash-forward to the present day, and it appears that George Clooney is taking considerable steps of his own to rectify what many see as an enduring example of Great Britain’s colonialist past,” AD reported, noting that “the aforementioned quote, though picked up by various outlets, was actually first shared earlier this year as part of a letter to an assemblage of professors and scholars.”
“Perhaps then, considering that the year is still young, there will be plenty more time for Clooney art-advocacy action on the horizon,” AD reported.