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UK Culture Secretary Says No Marbles Loan if Greece Claims Ownership

LONDON – The United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Lucy Frazer, stated that no deal would be made to loan the Parthenon Marbles, housed in the British Museum for 200 years, unless Greece relinquishes ownership.

The museum had previously offered to loan the marbles to Greece, but only under the condition that the Greek government formally acknowledge that the treasures, which were removed from the Parthenon by Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin, do not belong to Greece.

During a meeting of her secretariat, she said, “The British Museum Trustees are responsible for the objects; they were legally acquired, and we have no intention of changing the law in relation to these issues.”

The museum and various UK governments have maintained that Elgin legally acquired the marbles and had taken them with the permission of the then-ruling Ottoman Empire early in the 19th century, but Greece contends that they were stolen.

“I think it’s very important that the Greek government recognizes that these objects are owned and have been legitimately acquired. Objects are loaned from time to time, but it is fundamental that our ownership is recognized,” she said.

About half of the 160-meter (525-foot) frieze that adorned the Parthenon is in the British Museum, while only 50 meters (164 feet) of the carvings are in the Acropolis Museum, which has a top floor designed to display the marbles if they are ever returned.

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