ATHENS — Right out of a 1950’s romance movie but steeped in Ancient Greece comes the tale of how a famous Hollywood actor and brilliant attorney came together with deep talk and shared love of …. The Parthenon Marbles!
That’s a big reason he and Amal Alamuddin, a British-Lebanese barrister of renown are now married, said American actor and director George Clooney, so unpretentious and giving he handed over $1 million checks to 14 friends who helped him when he was a nobody trying to make it big.
Speaking to the British magazine The Observer, he said their discussions about the Parthenon Marbles spurred their love, both adamant for the cause of getting the stolen goods returned to Greece from the British Museum.
In the interview, Clooney said discussions the two had about the fate of the marbles while they were dating helped forge a strong bond between them and brought a backlash from then-London Mayor Boris Johnson – now Prime Minister who was upset with the actor’s fervent support of Greece getting back its marbles.
Cooney was in the United Kingdom at the promoting his movie The Monuments Men, about a special team of arts experts trying to save European treasures from the clutches of the Nazis.
He said Amal and he talked at length about the marbles and the cause, adding with a touch of his signature wryness that he "owes part of his current domestic contentment and job satisfaction” to Johnson.
After she became Mrs. Clooney, she was on a legal team retained by Greece to go to court to force the museum to send back to Greece the treasures stolen two centuries earlier by Lord Elgin, a Scottish diplomat who sold them on his return.
The fight was given up by the then-ruling Radical Left SYRIZA which said the marbles didn’t belong to Greece but to the world and wouldn’t go to court over it, preferring diplomacy that has always failed.
The cause hasn’t fared well under Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis either, as he first said he would plead with the British Museum to “loan” Greece the marbles so they could be displayed as part of Greece’s 2021 200th anniversary of freedom from the Ottoman Occupation, during which they were stolen by Elgin.
After a backlash, Mitsotakis’ government said it would pick up the cudgel again and try to use diplomacy and other methods to get the marbles back – the British Museum said they will never be returned.
But Mitsotakis wasn’t willing to go as far as using a veto to throw a monkey wrench into the negotiations over the UK leaving the European Union, the terms requiring unanimity from the 27 member states for an accord.