The epilogue of a long legal battle. No less than 351 looted antiquities, dating from the Neolithic to the Byzantine era, will be returned to Greece, said the Greek Ministry of Culture on Friday night to Saturday May 20. A large number of ceramic fragments will also be repatriated. The antiques, divided into 25 groups, were in the possession of British art dealer Robin Symes Limited, which is being liquidated, according to a statement.
Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said the legal battle to recover the looted antiquities in Greece had lasted 17 years, beginning in 2006 when Greek authorities began investigating Robin Symes Ltd. in the country and abroad.
Among the notable pieces in the antiquities collection, a Neolithic era statuette carved in white stone and dating from 4000 BC, a Cycladic figurine dating from between 3200 and 2700 BC, a damaged marble statue of Archaic Kore dating from 550-500 BC, or a fragmented bronze statue of a young Alexander the Great dating from the second half of the 2nd century.
Returned fragments of the Parthenon
Greece is fighting to recover its looted works of art and antiquities scattered in museums and private collections around the world. Three fragments of the Parthenon kept by the Vatican for more than two centuries were thus returned to Greece in March, a gesture of friendship according to Pope Francis. Fragments of the monument are scattered in several major museums around the world.
Greece also hopes to obtain the return of the Parthenon friezes which are in the British Museum in London and negotiations are said to be underway between the museum and the Greek government. London claims the sculptures were “legally acquired” in 1802 by the British diplomat Lord Elgin who sold them to the British Museum.
But Greece maintains that they were the object of a “looting” while the country was under Ottoman occupation. The restitution of the Parthenon friezes is a highly sensitive subject in Greece. In the Acropolis Museum, a space left empty is reserved for this frieze.