George Clooney Tells Britain to Return Greek Art Treasures

George Clooney Tells Britain Return Greek

Star reaffirms support for protesters in Ukraine

BERLIN — George Clooney said the U.K. should return Greek art treasures in its possession, during a press conference for his film “The Monuments Men” at the Berlin Film Festival Saturday.

Asked by a Greek journalist whether Greece should claim its historic monuments back from Britain, he said: “I think you have a very good case to make about your artifacts. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing if they were returned.

“I think that is a good idea. I think that would be a very fair and very nice thing. Yeah, I think it is the right thing to do.”

The possession by British museums of Greek artifacts — such as the Elgin Marbles, which were taken from the Acropolis in Athens — has long been a bone of contention between the two countries. The question fitted nicely with the theme of Clooney’s film, which follows the attempt by a squad of art experts to return stolen works of art to their rightful owners in post-war Germany.

The press conference had got off to a somber start when festival chief Dieter Kosslick announced that the reason that the press conference had started late was that a journalist had collapsed at the preceding press screening of Clooney’s film. He added that the journalist had been taken to hospital and was okay.

In the press conference, Clooney was also asked why he had expressed his support for the protesters in the Ukraine, through a message he posted on YouTube. He explained that the Klitschko brothers, who are among the leaders of the opposition movement in the Ukraine, were friends of his, dating back to his work on “Ocean’s Eleven,” in which Wladimir Klitschko had a role, but he said it went further than just friendship.

“I like them very much, but I was also aware of (Ukraine politician) Yulia Tymoshenko and the fact that Yulia hasn’t committed a crime, yet she has been placed in jail. And it seems like it gets lost in all the shuffles of news, and doesn’t get talked about, so I just wanted to show some support for that.

“I think the protesters are having a very difficult time, and I know that there are some hooligans on their side who are also making life difficult. So it is going to be a very long struggle, but I find it to be an important one to at least point out that the people are hoping for their own self determination.”

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  1. Abel Prinz says:

    I think that George Clooney knows nothing about good Greek Art, come on he can’t stand Tina Fey for a start cause she’s doesn’t really like him, he seriously needs to grow up, he’s still very wet behind the ears!

  2. Christo Varis says:

    Please boycott the British museum until they return the Parthenon marbles to Greece where they belong.

  3. loveforart says:

    It’s very interesting how hypocritical some (and I stress some) Brits are: They are the first to criticize the shortcomings of other countries and governments but when it comes to their own back yard, they turn a blind eye – or worse, they become nasty, touchy and bitter. I apologize for the long comment, but it cannot be helped:
    1) Lord Elgin got a “licence” (then called firman) by the Ottomans to remove the marbles he wanted. No representatives of Greeks (church officials or any other semi-official they might have had) where ever consulted or asked. In other words, an occupying force gave Elgin the leeway to take antiquities that didn’t belong to them in the first place. The method used to acquire them are at the edge of legality – in the best case scenario, they’re highly questionable. This firman has been lost. A copy of it has been examined by experts on Ottoman diplomacy and question its content and whether it gave explicit licence to take away physical parts of the monument.
    2) It is said Elgin wanted to “save the antiquities.” That’s incorrect. If that’s what he wanted he would have carefully removed the Parthenon frieze in its entirety and not hacked off parts of a body, parts of a face and some whole pieces. His actions show greed and not a genuine interest in the well being of the artifacts. Even back in his day, some people in Britain accused him of vandalism. Back then, big museums were being built all over Europe (in London, Berlin, Paris etc) and they needed stuff to fill their massive exhibition halls. Since the British didn’t have much of value to exhibit, they went on a world-wide quest to take important artifacts from old civilizations. Athens was an easy target. Locals were living under foreign rule and were barely making ends meet. That’s what Lord Elgin took advantage of.
    3) Greece has been taken care of its treasures for centuries. Naturally, the Parthenon has sustained damage due to the corrosive force of the elements, but all the important statues, friezes etc have long been transported, stored and well conserved in museums purposely built for them – the latest being the massive Acropolis museum. There’s a huge room decorated with the parts of the frieze left to the Greeks and plaster models of the parts taken to Britain. Anyone who has visited this gallery knows how heartbreaking it is to see half of this magnificent treasure.
    Britain can shake off its Empire mentality and show some class by handing back something that belongs to another civilization.

  4. MrFish says:

    The Greeks haven’t much to gain from the return of the Parthenon marbles. Whatever happens to those physical remains, their ancestors’ achievements will always be a pinnacle of human civilization.

    Rather it is the British that have more to gain: Returning the marble fragments would release them from their Empire’s heritage of theft and nationalism.

    But I guess British academia and its general public have just not matured enough yet.

  5. Katsaros says:

    The sum of the coments against greece is like who cares! we can all go out on a tour in London and take whatever comes in our way. For example really nice cars and afterwards say that now it´s our things, just because you couldn`t take care of you “Ferrari”

  6. CitizenTM says:

    Some of the great monuments from Greece, Egypt and other places now in the MIDDLE EAST would have already become rubble, their materials used for building farm houses or roads and the like. These claims are stupid and made by arrogant people not capable of taking care of themselves.

    • Katsaros says:

      To steele something is not right whatever you take! even if you steele rubbish. These valuable statues were stolen by arrogant people like you…

  7. Nanny Mo says:

    You star in a couple of movies, some moneymakers, others stinkers, and you think anyone cares what you think. The way the world is going in Egypt for example, the only artifacts left to humanity will be the ones safe in Britain. Can you image what a corrupt Greece would do with their artifacts? They can’t even pay their bills. George needs to shut up and act.

    • princes harry says:

      britain is not less corrupt, think of all this global british terrorism you guys promote with your “army”. Is not easy to dream that you are still an empire but in reality you are a small island outside europe with no industry and lot of bitterness….thats why nobody likes you…and we all enjoying watching you disappear day by day, sooner or later we will take back what is ours, as well as China, Egypt and every other country you stolen from. The only gift british gave to the world is hate, crime, and lies.

      • John Shea says:

        Up until now I thought Britain should return those marbles to Greece. But hateful comments like this make me reconsider. I’m probably not alone in that.

    • Yannis says:

      You should visit New Acropolis Museum , and then you Will understand that England have to get them back . Because of Greeks even in crisis are not Barbaras like was lord Elgin and we make difference between historical art treasurers and other material things .

  8. madjyo says:

    Most of the artifacts in British Museum are vandalized treasures from countries like India, China, Greece etc..There are very little chances of being restored to the places they originally belong to..Can’t expect such great magnanimity and will power from the so called democratic leaders of today.

  9. Yannis says:

    It’s time to give Parthenon marbles back !
    We Greeks remember two famous English Men . They are : Great National Hero of Greece Lord G. G. Byron , and Great Thief Lord Elgin !

  10. Just Confused says:

    I believe JOHN COX has a point.
    If you think of Britain as a curator preserving these artifacts when the owners might not be able to and might otherwise be lost to the world completely. Rather like a guardian looking after a ward unable to effectively or, perhaps, wisely care for itself.

    Mr. Clooney has a right to voice an opinion. The British have a right to ignore it. In the meantime it gets press attention for his movie.

  11. John Cox says:

    Mr Clooney should mind his own business. The Elgin Marbles were saved for civilisation by British collectors. The statues remaining in Athens are fast disappearing due to pollution and vandalism.

    If Greek antiquities in the UK are to be returned to their place of origin, then the same applies to those in America, and the antiquities in Mr Clooney’s own home.

  12. Those Parthenon marbles were STOLEN, not given from the Greeks to the British for their museum. Elgin stole them. They need to get back, to the Acropolis museum. RIGHT NOW.

    • John Cox says:

      Actually, Mr Koufalexi, the marbles were removed under the authority of a firman granted by the authorities. They were removed to preserve them from the Greek locals who were burning the marble for lime.

      • Actually, Mr. Cox, Greece had been conquered by the Ottoman Empire at the time the marbles were taken. That firman was not granted by a Greek government, but by a sultan who could care less whether the marbes would be destroyed or not.

  13. Akis says:

    So what if we get those statues back? Will we get more jobs? more money? like 30-40% of the population is without a job and cant pay their bills, who the fuck cares about pieces of shit.

  14. John Shea says:

    We should all give back everything our ancestors stole! Except then we’d all have nothing, or everything, or the same as before…

  15. Joe Geist says:

    The Elgin Marbles are going nowhere. Let’s face it. The British preserved them all these years.

    • Alexis Pappas says:

      The Parthenon Marbles Mr.Geist, at least show some respect for The history of the marbles.

      • obloodyhell says:

        Yeah, well, the tendency to go back to issues that occurred hundreds of years go to people long dead and demand reparations from people NOW who had nothing to do with it, that’s a good sign of having lost your marbles.

  16. Cineaste says:

    I think they should give back the Oscar British born Dame Elizabeth won in 1961 and give it (posthumously) to Greek screen legend Melina Mercouri.

  17. tony says:

    When you give back your land, George.

  18. Keith says:

    While England is at it, they should give back the billions of dollars worth of art they stole from the African nation of Benin in 1897.

    • CitizenTM says:

      Much more worthy cause, in my opinion.

      With the latest movie and this claim Mister Clooney dropped a bit in my respect pantheon.

  19. moviejungle says:

    Hell yes! I am Greek living in the U.S. and I find it appalling that they still have those in the U.K. We visited the museum at the Parthenon this year and there is so much missing which was claimed by the British. It should be returned without question.

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