George Clooney has a ‘Hitlerian agenda’ for antiquities, claims Boris Johnson


If you asked me last Saturday if I thought I was going to spend this week discussing the British Museum’s possession of The Elgin Marbles/The Parthenon Marbles, I would have said you were crazy. But here we are. Quick note: these are some assorted new pics from the promotional tour for The Monuments Men. Most of these pics are from the London premiere and photocall. Anyway, back to the marbles. When doing press in Italy, George Clooney was asked – by a Greek reporter – if he thought the British Museum should return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. George said that it would probably be a good idea. The Greeks lavished praise on Clooney and they invited him to stay in Greece whenever he wants. But now George is England, and the English have a bone to pick with him. Before Clooney even arrived in England, John Whittingdale, the chairman of Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee told reporters:

“I’m a great admirer of George Clooney, but I suspect that he probably doesn’t know the history of the Elgin marbles and the legal entitlement that Britain has to them. He’s an American. I suspect he doesn’t know why it is that Britain came to acquire the Elgin marbles. There’s a very strong view in this country that they should stay.”

[From The LAT]

Basically, Clooney is a dumb America who should just go back to America and stop talking about Europe’s stolen art? Right. So, the British reporters were ready to pounce on Clooney as soon as he arrived. They asked him to reiterate his position. Clooney actually sounds good here:

At today’s press conference, held at the National Gallery, Clooney said it had been “one in about 100 questions at a press conference, from a Greek reporter, and I said I thought it was probably a good idea if they found their way back”.

But he added: “Apparently I got in trouble for saying that and I had to do a little research to make sure I wasn’t completely out of my mind. Even in England, the polling is in favour of returning the marbles to the Pantheon [sic]. The Vatican returned parts of it, the Getty returned parts of it [the Vatican gave a section of the Parthenon frieze to the Acropolis museum in Athens on loan; the J Paul Getty museum in Los Angeles repatriated looted treasures last year]. There are certain pieces you look at and think, ‘That would perhaps be the right thing to do’.”

Clooney noted that he had been criticized for commenting because he was American and did not have sufficient understanding of the situation.

But Matt Damon, who was also present at the press conference, laughed: “That can’t always be the British default setting. It’s not actually an argument to say, ‘He’s American, he doesn’t get it’.”

[From The Telegraph]

I tend to think George had the right to his opinion, and I err more on his side of the argument anyway. But don’t look at me – if I had my way, the Queen would return the Koh-i-Noor diamond to India as well. Anyway, this has become a major kerfuffle in the UK, and wouldn’t you know, London mayor Boris Johnson decided to chime in too:

“Someone urgently needs to restore George Clooney’s marbles. Here he is plugging a film about looted Nazi art without realising that Göring himself had plans to plunder the British Museum. And where were the Nazis going to send the Elgin marbles? To Athens! This Clooney is advocating nothing less than the Hitlerian agenda for London’s cultural treasures. He should stuff the Hollywood script and stick to history.”

[From The Standard]

That argument makes absolutely no sense. It’s not even a reasonable application of Godwin’s law. Yes, the Nazis looted so many museums. They stole precious artwork and treasures from museums and from private citizens. SO DID ENGLAND. Just because England did it under the guise of “colonization” a century or two before the Nazis, doesn’t make it any less wrong. It’s like saying, “The Nazis were going to steal the stuff that WE STOLE FIRST.”



Photos courtesy of WENN, Fame/Flynet.

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101 Responses to “George Clooney has a ‘Hitlerian agenda’ for antiquities, claims Boris Johnson”

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  1. Hannah says:

    And Boris Johnson – as always – has an agenda to put his foot in his mouth.

    (BTW, ‘Hitlerian’ doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, does it?!)

    • Hiddles forever says:

      He can’t stop himself, can he?

    • SonjaMarmeladova says:

      As someone watching from the outside, how on Earth was Boris Johnson elected? Is there some sharp intelligence we can’t see at first sight, because he seems, well, not that bright.

      • Hiddles forever says:

        It is the same from the inside…. (although I don’t live in London.. So I am an outsider too!).
        Any time he opens his mouth we take cover.

        At least if he was smart he could have pointed out that the Vatican ‘loaned’ them to Athens…. Ah.

      • Hannah says:

        He is very bright. He went to Oxford and all that and he has a famously huge vocabulary. He’s just… I don’t know… a Tory? It’s a bit like John Bolton, the former US Ambassador to the UN: very intelligent, supremely educated but craaaazy.

      • Hiddles forever says:

        Maybe all that education was wasted… Maybe he thought that putting the Nazi and George Clooney in the same sentence was cool. Smart.. Heck, no.

      • LAK says:

        Boris Johnson is staggeringly bright. His public persona of a bumbling billy bunter is designed to lull and disarm people, but he is a very slick operator.

        And he has a very real chance of landing at No 10, as do his equally bright siblings bar his sister Rachel who doesn’t appear interested in politics.

      • Harriet says:

        Yeah Boris is very, very intelligent. I once read an article by him in the paper not realising he had written it and being amazed. With Boris, yes, he is a Tory and yes, he is beyond eccentric but the man got elected twice!

      • Zadie says:

        Did he go to Oxford because he was that smart or the same way Bush went to Yale?

      • Sixer says:

        Yes. Boris is brighter than bright can be. Not just cultural capital. He has got a huge brain. Also, he has a sharp and genuine sense of humour.

        The rest though, the bumbling and the waffle, is pure schtick. He is incredibly ambitious and all the headline grabbing is simply a means to an end. Even people who don’t support the Tories like Boris – he makes them laugh and his particular artifice is unusual so people are inclined to believe he is more truthful than the average politician.

        For his political opponents (eg me) this makes him exceedingly dangerous!

      • Harriet says:

        No, He got to Uni on merit although he went to Eton too. Oopsie… A Tory who went to Eton… What a can of worms! ;)

      • Sixer says:

        @Zadie – I don’t know how Bush went to Yale, but in the UK there is no such thing as “legacy” university admissions. To get into Oxbridge, you have to get the grades. (Clearly, the top private schools are better at getting their pupils the grades than the inner city, budget-strapped state schools, but to get to Oxbridge, you still have to get them).

      • LAK says:

        Zadie: He went to Oxford because he is that bright. The entire family is staggeringly bright.

      • BobbyGiles says:

        ‘Even people who don’t support the Tories like Boris’. Wrong.

      • Sixer says:

        Bobby – currentish favourability poll: Boris 44%, Tories 25%.

      • Londerland says:

        Trust me, we Brits don’t know how the hell he was elected mayor either. He’s a joke, a clown. But because he was clumsily amusing on a couple of tv shows, he became famous, and because Londoners were pissed at the previous mayor’s traffic policies, they chose to elect “fat Andy Warhol” as mayor (courtesy Dara O’Briain). He was even being talked up as next Tory party leader before they found Shiny Dave Cameron, if you can believe that.

        Anyway, yeah. Boris is a joke, we don’t take him seriously, nor should anyone else.

      • Sixer says:

        I’m not a Boris, nor a Tory, supporter. But it should be noted that while those who don’t like him like to call him a joke, he really, really isn’t. He was elected Mayor in 2008 and then re-elected in 2012. In both elections, he would have won (by 6% and 4%) if the election was first past the post. And both times with about 10% more of the first vote share than either of the two previous elections won by Ken Livingstone. But the London mayoral election is done by supplementary vote and he also won most supplementary votes (ie second preferences) in both elections.

        Anecdotal evidence from my brother, who was a grass roots campaigner/number cruncher for Labour in both elections, is that when doorstepping, most voters who chose Boris as their first or second preference, did so because of a) the traffic policies noted above and b) he came across as more direct and honest than the other candidates, less of a “PRd to death politician”.

        For anyone who doesn’t like Boris, it’s dangerous to write him off as a joke. The schtick WORKS.

    • Maria says:

      Frankly as soon as someone like Boris invokes Hitler, they’ve lost the argument. Anyone who has read up on Hitler and the Third Reich knows what they were really like and knows better than to throw such terms around.
      As for returning the marbles, it’s a complex issue. Part of me is for it, but part of me sees why the British would want to keep them.

  2. Ice Maiden says:

    ”Basically, Clooney is a dumb America who should just go back to America and stop talking about Europe’s stolen art? Right. ”

    I suppose it would have helped if Clooney managed to get the name of the marbles right. They’re the Parthenon marbles, not the ‘Pantheon marbles’ as he said twice.

  3. GiGi says:

    This is such a complex topic, because where does it end, really? I know that many museums have returned Native artifacts to their home tribes, but there is a value in having those items for public display. There are so many instances of countries or museums or people owning things which were ill gotten. I guess in an ideal world, everything would go back to the original owners, but that seems unlikely.

    On a side (way to the side) note – I had a dream the other night that I got it on with Clooney. It was good and he was well appointed. The weird part? Matt Damon was sitting on the bed. So bizarre.

    • JojoAnn says:

      We pledge to display our heritage as soon as you return them, how about that? Why plunderers think they can clain altruism in their refusal to return stolen property (when we all know they are really driven by the revenue and prestige that comes from holding these artifacts) is beyond me. Its not complicated, the British Museum currently holds over 50 items stolen from royal families from my country, many of whom the Brits went ahead to slaughter in cold blood, give it back. This is plain thievery.

      • Hiddles forever says:

        That is silliness, pure and simple. It is not just the Brits.

        The looting business is an industry of huge proportions worldwide (only Italy loses more than 100,000 artifacts per year!) and to be honest museums should NOT buy looted artefacts without any provenance. When they do actually buy them, it is a difficult process to claim them back, a lot more difficult than you think.

      • gg says:

        Provenance is certainly proved on the Elgin marbles though. Also, depending on when the articles were acquired by the museum would be a factor. As in the Getty return, it’s a matter of either doing the right thing, or ignoring it all and claiming the revenues.

        Elgin looted the marbles. Britain could return or loan to Greece over half of them and still have a wonderful museum.

      • Hiddles forever says:

        Elgin didn’t literally loot the marbles. Indeed the Turks had no permission to sell them, but they were not looted in the real sense.
        We are speaking of stuff happening in the 19th century anyway, so more difficult to decide that the whole story about the MET and the Lydian treasure.

      • Maria says:

        The problem with this argument is that if everything that belonged everywhere else was returned/repatriated simply because it came from there, it would leave worldwide culture bereft. If you could only rely on traveling exhibitions or on having to go to a whole other country to see things, then art/history appreciation/education begins to suffer. I can understand the argument, but it is problematic and short sighted. I think that’s why they enacted the laws they did so that all antiquities that surfaced from the 70′s onward or are part of actual Nazi loot were supposed to be returned. If you go any further back than that, it just becomes a mess – seriously, how far back would it have to go?

      • gg says:

        Good points you make. I feel like it should probably depend upon date of acquisition. This particular case, I don’t think should be grandfathered in necessarily. I know it will never happen, so it’s all just discourse, thus mine is a completely frivolous suggestion, but if there was a bit more altruism going on around these pieces, it would also be great PR for Britain. It’ll never happen. Britain has got its rattle and it ain’t lettin go.

    • Kiki says:

      In Austria, they have Moctezuma’s headpiece. People in Mexico have tried for ages to get it back but you know what? I’ve seen where it is and I say it should stay there. If they gave it back to us, some politician would steal it for sure or gift it to a drug lord. I think it should be where everyone can have access to it, even if it’s not in its home country.

      • Hiddles forever says:

        The whole Louvre has one of the most extensive Egyptian collections ever. And the main attraction at the Neues Museum in Berlin is the Nefertiti bust.

      • Meredith says:

        I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit. How do you know some politician will give it to a drug lord? You don’t. This comment smacks of condescension and of trying to “protect” artifacts from the “savages” (i.e. the indigenous population the artifact belongs to) who couldn’t possibly treat it as reverently as the Austrians because they’re not white Europeans.

      • Lemonsorbet says:

        Artefacts should be with whoever knows how to take care of them. What with all the touching going on at the British Museum these days (what are those guards there for?), those larger exhibits on the ground floor without cases should be repatriated. Thousands of idiots touching the artefacts every single day for free, is not taking care now is it?

      • Kiki says:

        I am sorry Meredith but in no way was I ever rude to anyone. I am a Mexican citizen and during the presidency of Jose Lopez Portillo, several Mayan sculptures disappeared from the Chichen Itza ruins. Empress Josephine Charlotte’s bed was given away to one of his mistresses and it was never returned to the Chapultepec castle. Please drop the attitude. I know what I am talking about. And yes, Austrians have taken excellent care of the headdress, I never said that they are better than us Mexicans. They just value our stuff more.

      • Moi says:

        @Maria, great post. It is a complicated situation; however, you put things into perspective in my opinion.

  4. Sixer says:

    Oh, it’s just Boris’s usual schtick of combining a p!ss take with a headline grab. He can be safely ignored.

    See what I’ve been saying though? Our politicians are the greedy grabbers. Even George knows most of the people would be happy to send them back.

    • Hiddles forever says:

      Most of the people, I wouldn’t say…. Many don’t care at all, also because only a few people will be able to afford to see them in Greece (given the plane ticket….).

      Concerning Boris Johnson… It would be more convenient for him to shut up lol

      • Ice Maiden says:

        ”only a few people will be able to afford to see them in Greece.”

        Tickets for the Acropolis Museum in Athens, which is where the marbles would likely be displayed, cost a maximum of €5. I would say rather more than a ‘few people’ could stretch to that.

      • Hiddles forever says:

        Sorry? Are you kidding me? And the plane ticket? It is not like you drive to Athens easily from all Europe eh….

      • Ice Maiden says:

        Well, you can’t drive to Britain from Europe at all, so your point is moot.

        Anyway, have you been to Athens or the Acropolis Museum? I have, and when I was there in summer some years ago, it was packed. It would seem very many people have no trouble getting to Athens (it being a European capital, and Greece being a major tourist destination and all that) or shelling out all of €5 to see some of the greatest artifacts in European heritage.

      • Hiddles forever says:

        No, your point is moot, because last time I checked prices to stay in Athens (I have a friend there but she can’t offer accommodation) the prices were beyond the roof. So it is not a cheap destination. And for your info I have visited countless museums and I found them all packed so museums=cheap to fly there doesn’t stand as an argument.

        The main point is another. Given that Greece, Italy and Spain all have preservation problems for their cultural heritages and they only allow foreign excavators there (because they pay to earn credits for their university courses or their careers), what’s the meaning of getting a part of the Parthenon frieze there when it can’t be preserved properly?

        Last time I checked they needed funding to keep the whole Parthenon up!

      • gg says:

        It sounds like Athens could sure use the revenues these items would bring on loan from Britain to restore the Parthenon then doesn’t it. People would travel to see them in situ. Greece is still a very popular tourist destination and London hotels aren’t exactly inexpensive either. I have worked with, collect (small items I’ve bought which were dug up in Britain), and have studied antiquities extensively. I appreciate a good museum in a great city. But I feel London should at least loan them out to Greece. The British Museum would not suffer in the least, especially if not all of them were removed, and the good will it fostered would be huge, and attention would be called to visit Athens and see the marbles near their original location. Win-win.

      • Ice Maiden says:

        ”So it is not a cheap destination”

        Whereas London is? Seriously, London is one of the world’s most expensive cities to visit, much more expensive than Athens. In any case, the argument that countries should only be ‘allowed’ to have certain artefacts if they are cheap to visit is absurd, quite aside from the fact that it would instantly disqualify London.

        ”what’s the meaning of getting a part of the Parthenon frieze there when it can’t be preserved properly?”

        Again, you clearly haven’t been to the Acropolis museum, which is beautifully laid out and cared for. The idea that the Greeks cannot be trusted with their own archeological heritage, and need the Britis to take care of it for them, is bordering on the jingoistic.

        ”Last time I checked they needed funding to keep the whole Parthenon up! ”

        Last time I checked, British authorities ‘responded’ to flooding in their own country in an utterly shambolic manner.

        Seriously, do only countries which have never gone through tough times economically qualify to display their own heritage?

      • Sixer says:

        I really can’t see that the cost of British people going to see Greek artefacts in Greece is a factor that should even be on the radar!

        There *is* doubt about the provenance and the ownership but, as I’ve said before, probably not enough for Greece to succeed in getting a court to order repatriation. But again, this shouldn’t be the main factor.

        To me, it’s simple: they are important Greek artefacts with somewhat dodgy ownership credential for we Brits. If the Greeks want them back, then they should go back.

        To say that the Greeks couldn’t look after them properly is a) patronising to the extent it reflects archaic colonial attitudes and b) not the point. I can choose whether or not to look after my possessions properly but other people don’t have a right to take them away from me if I don’t look after them properly!

        I don’t see why the main marbles can’t go back and there be some kind of collaborative effort involving the preservation of all artefacts with the expertise of both countries, with a series of moveable artefacts being loaned by the Greeks to the British Museum. It doesn’t all have to be nasty and confrontational.

      • Hiddles forever says:

        @Sixer and Ice Maiden

        It is not patronising at all because I know quite well how it works, I am an archaeologist.

        And to be honest, seemingly you are both not aware about preservation and the cost of it. It is HUGE. Greece has no financial resources to dedicate to cultural heritage given the dramatic financial situation the country is in.

        Or would you think of the Elgin marbles whilst the whole Greek Tv orchestra had to be shut down? Greece has the highest rate of unemployed people in Europe!

        Ladies, the issue has been a matter of discussion forever between the academics and if you have no knowledge of the subject, please don’t be rude to people using words as colonialist (I am not even a Brit lol)

      • Hiddles forever says:

        Re the flooding,

        Last time I checked all the southern part of England was flat and overpopulated. How do you manage that issue, apart from evacuating people? Not many would agree to leave their houses because there’s a danger for flooding…..

      • Ice Maiden says:

        ”And to be honest, seemingly you are both not aware about preservation and the cost of it. It is HUGE. Greece has no financial resources to dedicate to cultural heritage given the dramatic financial situation the country is in.”

        Again, my question: Do only countries which have never suffered a financial crisis, or are never likely to, get the right to display their own artefacts? Greece is going through tough times now, but will not always be. Ten years from now, Greece could be booming, and Britain could be in a crisis. Should Britain’s art be taken away from them in such a situation?

        And also, despite what we sometimes hear, the Greeks take their archeological heritage extremely seriously. It is a matter of great national pride. Perhaps you can give us details of Greek artefacts which have been destroyed or damaged during the economic crisis? If, after all the fuss, the marbles were returned to Greece, it strikes me as *extremely* unlikely that the Greeks would allow them to be damaged in any way. Instead, they would probably be displayed in the high-tech Acropolis Museum and viewed by thousands of people every day. The notion that the Greeks cannot be trusted to care for their own heritage IS jingoistic.

      • Hiddles forever says:

        No it is not jingoistic, it is realistic Ice Maiden.

        And supposedly a country that has never bloomed in decades it would bloom in fifteen years? Your reasoning about economics is even worse than mine. And being proud of your heritage doesn’t equal having the financial means to care for them!
        I am originally from Italy and I am here (U.K.) because they don’t allow us to excavate at home. That has been the same for a century now.

        Concerning Greece, German teams wouldn’t have been allowed to excavate at Olympia and French archaeologists at Delphi if the country was able to fund some of their archaeological excavations.
        The Greek artefacts are all over the planet, live with it. I have nearly 500 pictures of Greek artefacts in Berlin’s museums, many obtained through looting.
        If you don’t believe me, google Pergamon altar, it gives a name to the museum in Berlin.
        Speaking of which.. The Ishtar Gate should be returned to Irak then.

        If you don’t possess enough knowledges to comment on this, please don’t attack other posters.

      • Ice Maiden says:

        ”And supposedly a country that has never bloomed in decades now it would bloom in fifteen years? Your reasoning about economics is even worse than mine”

        Not sure how you define ‘blooming’ but Ireland was poor throughout its entire history, and yet had an economic boom. Norway was one of the poorest countries in Europe until it discovered oil, and now it’s one of the richest.

        Anyway, the argument is pointless. There is no law which says that only countries with ‘blooming’ economies have the right to their own heritage. There are arguments in favour of Britain retaining the marbles, but that is certainly not one of them.

        ”And being proud of your heritage doesn’t equal having the financial means to care for them!”

        Greece’s number one industry is tourism, and its archeological heritage is a major part of that. It would make no financial sense for them to neglect their monuments – which is why, apart from national pride, they do not. And you speak of Greece as though it were a third world country. Yes, it’s going through an economic crisis now, but in global terms, it is still a relatively rich country. How do you think third world countries manage to maintain their artefacts? Or should Britain come to the rescue there too?

        ”Concerning Greece, German teams wouldn’t have been allowed to excavate at Olympia and French archaeologists at Delphi if the country was able to fund some of their archaeological excavations.”

        So what? They did get the funding, didn’t they? Lots of funding for such projects in many countries comes from the EU. My question was as to how many Greek artefacts have been destroyed due to lack of funding, and since you haven’t given an answer, I’ll take it that none have.

        Answer me this: Do you *honestly* think that, after decades of high-profile struggle to have the Parthenon marbles returned, the Greeks, with the whole world watching them, would allow them to be damaged? Honestly?

        PS If we’re going to continue this discussion, I’d appreciate you didn’t keep casting aspersions on other people’s knowledge of the subject.

      • Sixer says:

        Hiddles – but it is for the Greeks to decide whether they can afford to repatriate, not for the Brits to decide for them! And I would say, NOT in the spirit of attack, that sometimes those intimately involved with an issue sometimes lose a sense of the bigger picture and so aren’t the only perspective that counts.

      • Hiddles forever says:


        My perspective is not the only one that counts but surely I have an insight knowledge that others can’t have. Of course people are entitled to their opinion, but that’s what it is, an opinion. I surely get all wound up when people wants to pass their opinion as knowledge of an issue that is more complicated than they want to admit. However, if the Greeks could pay for them, I don’t think there wouldn’t be any issue….

      • Dap says:

        I’ve been to London and to Athens and London is approximately 10 times more expensive. Also, the British museum is so full of things, it’s impossible to see them all at once. What’s the point? How much time do you need to see all of it and fully understand what you see: several weeks/months? When I was there, all I saw were the Greek and Egpytian antiquities. No time an no energy left for the Britsih stuff, don’t you think that’s a pity?

      • Dap says:

        Also, the argument that the Elgin Marble can’t be return because there is no safe place for them in Athens is very hypocritical and dishonest. Because what did the Greek when they heard it? They build a brand new museum! Just for the Marbles! And now this museum is full of copies. The Brits should have just said “we are never going to send them back to you because we don’t want to” that would have been more honest and would have save the Greeks a lot of money.

      • Ice Maiden says:

        Not to mention that the marbles were quite seriously damaged by the Brits on at least one occasion.

      • gg says:

        I’ve seen the collection and there are a LOT of pieces there. I just don’t see any positive argument as to why Britain has to keep them all. There are claims that it’s more complicated than that. Looks like a lot of Brits have been raised thinking they’re forever entitled to them and refuse to think any different. I’ve listened to all discussion about it my whole life, have delved into it, and still have yet to find any good argument in Britain not giving at least some back to Greece.

        The taking of these items to Britain occurred only a little over 200 years ago, which is a mere second in terms of the study of antiquities, and pretty damn *recent*, in my opinion. It’s not like this occurred a thousand years ago, before either country was civilized. Modern sensibilities would dictate at least sharing, in my opinion.

      • Hiddles forever says:

        @Ice Maiden

        The marbles were damaged also before:
        “Another example of prior damage is that sustained during wars. It is during these periods that the Parthenon and its artwork have sustained by far the most extensive damage. In particular, an explosion ignited by Venetian gun and cannon fire bombardment in 1687, whilst the Parthenon was used as a munitions store during the Ottoman rule, destroyed or damaged many pieces of Parthenon art including some of those later taken by Lord Elgin”

        Of course, the ‘bleaching’ of the marbles did no good to them either.

      • Hiddles forever says:

        “The taking of these items to Britain occurred only a little over 200 years ago, which is a mere second in terms of the study of antiquities, and pretty damn *recent*, in my opinion.”

        The opposite, it’s quite ancient in terms of Archaeology history. Archaeology wasn’t a science before late nineteenth century. Merchant of antiquities existed before archaeologists, but please don’t get confused to who is who. An archaeologist would have left the Parthenon Frieze on the Parthenon.

      • Hiddles forever says:


        The first Acropolis museum was built in 1874. Although the marbles were a further reason to enlarge the previous museum, it was not built for that purpose and it doesn’t contain just copies……. just check wiki.
        Concerning the British museum and if it’s full of too many things… I guess you’ve never been to the Louvre?

      • Dap says:

        @Hiddles : oh now you’re quoting wikipedia? I thought it was well below you since you’re a such an archeological experts… I recommend you the book by the British historian W. St Clair if you ‘re trully interested in knowing in what way Elgin and his crew damaged the Parthenon while removing the marbles (Oxford University Press, it should mean something to you, right?). Very sad and very telling…

      • gg says:

        Hiddles, you are very busy splitting hairs all over the place that are out of context. My point is that the moving of the pieces didn’t occur a thousand years ago, it was fairly recent, the people involved were civilized, and took them out of greed to put them in their own country. Yes this was done a lot by a lot of countries but that doesn’t make it all 100% right. There is no diluting that they were removed from their home country. I realize you are passionate about your studies, but you are waterproof to any other opinion but your own and you haven’t proved a single thing to back yourself up.

      • Dap says:

        No, I never been to the Louvres (sadly) and I’m pretty sure it would be the same. So what?
        The new archeological museum in Athens has a room which was build expecially to display the marbles: check it by yourself if you care:

      • Hiddles forever says:

        “Yes this was done a lot by a lot of countries but that doesn’t make it all 100% right.”

        Nobody said it was right. We’re speaking about the future of the scupltures, not the past.

        “I realize you are passionate about your studies, but you are waterproof to any other opinion but your own and you haven’t proved a single thing to back yourself up.”

        When an opinion is passed off as knowledge it might bother me. And again, antiquities is something, Archaeology is another. I don’t understand why I should prove anything. Prove what? I’m not writing an academic essay here.
        The general thought of the archaeologists is clear: we’re all against looting.
        But this is now, when it extends to the past.. who has the right to what?

      • Hiddles forever says:


        For online posters, I usually quote wiki. It is a bit like quoting the Daily Mail because not everybody has a subscription to The Times. Clear now?
        Yes it’s below me and we’re even forbidden to use wiki in university essays but online posters usually don’t have access to some sources, like some stuff stored on JSTOR archives so it is basically pointless to post links that nobody can open.

        Concerning the Acropolis museum or the damage suffered by the marbles, I don’t need to check your links, sorry ;)
        I see that lots of online commenters keep posting the same stuff without even bothering to check what they’re talking about. Threfeore I’m off, back to Hiddles threads.

      • Dap says:

        Yes, you’d better not check my links or you would see you’re wrong.

      • gg says:

        So, Hiddles, you don’t have to back up your *opinions* because you’re not writing an academic essay, but us peons, so far beneath you, shouldn’t have an opinion nor rely on anything we’ve sourced because we don’t have access to your database, is that right? This reasoning is so condescending it’s almost funny. ;)

      • Ice Maiden says:

        ”When an opinion is passed off as knowledge it might bother me.”

        Except that the only person here claiming any kind of specialist knowledge is…. you.

        In your discussions with me, you’ve put forward two arguments, neither of them requiring any kind of expert knowledge.

        They are:

        1) That the marbles shouldn’t be in Athens because it’s expensive and difficult to get to

        2) The Greeks can’t afford the upkeep of the marbles so they should stay in London.

        I think the first argument is just quite simply factually incorrect, and is, frankly, a ridiculous argument to begin with. On the face of it, your other argument might make some sense, but if you’re going to say Greece is too ‘poor’ to host its own artefacts, then the same could be said for the vast majority of the world’s nations. Should the artistic heritage of the world be displayed only in Switzerland, say, or Norway?

        Like I’ve said, there may be good arguments to be made in favour of Britain retaining the marbles, but these are not among them. There’s no point claiming superior knowledge if your only response to those who disagree with you is to scoff at them.

      • Miss Jupitero says:

        Sorry, but I’ve spent a lot of time in Europe and lived in turkey for two years (at which time I was dirt poor). Athensis expensive in the high season only, and even then, not so much; London is hideously expensive all the time. A plane ticket to London from Boston is just as put of reach as any other destination. This is a ridiculous point to make.

  5. dahlianoir says:

    I see Dujardin and Clooney are becoming buddies, I hope Jean wasn’t told to leave his 4 year old wife for some victoria secret model …

  6. Amelia says:

    Oh, Boris, Boris, Boris . . .
    Keep schtum and get stuck on a zip wire, would you?

  7. Roberta says:

    Boris opens his mouth and puts his foot in it as usual. And as for there being a strong view for them to stay, wrong. I’m British and I think they should be returned. One of the arguments for them being taken out of Greece to prevent further damage is now irrelevant anyway.

  8. Harriet says:

    I take the British Museum’s approach to this. They basically said everyone is entitled to their opinion about the marbles but the complexities of the matter are rarely discussed and the conversation is frequently over simplified.

    I an of Indian descent, so I know all about the Koh-I-Noor diamond- but truth be told I don’t know what condition it would have been in had it remained there (unless it remained in private family hands- which wasn’t an option) The last time I was there, I was disgusted to find they had cut out chunks of marble from a 16th Century monument to stick a rusty air conditioning unit through the wall, complete with rust stains running down inlaid, decorative marble.

    • Hiddles forever says:

      I agree and thanks for the sensible comment. This issue (as the Pompeii one….) is treated as simple but it is quite complicated, more than people assume.

      • Harriet says:

        Hi Hiddles forever! I know where you are coming from! I studied architecture but my fourth year thesis was about the excavation of Troy, so I’ve spent some time on a dig and with archaeologists, funnily enough! Really, the issue is over simplified as proven above. The public see the tip of the iceberg and that, by no means is a problem, but a vigilante group of artefact liberators won’t be solving things any time soon. Of course, in a place like this opinions are welcome.

      • Hiddles forever says:

        Totally agree! Yes opinions are welcome, unfortunately some people pretends to know better than everyone else… well just in front of a keyboard though ;)

        Troy’s excavation… it is my dream to visit it. I met in Germany one of Korfmann excavators (the excavation taking place in 1988), I think I listened to him in awe!

        To be honest, even the Elgin marbles is a wrong term. Archaeologists use Parthenon sculptures, more appropriate.

  9. Sarah says:

    Woaw Boris Johnsohn has very weird reasoning. Hitler ate bread, lets find pictures of Clooney eating bread (and he has a friend whose name sounds like bread) and we can hold that against him. Hitler had a favourite dog with him in the bunker, Clooney has Einstein. The plot thickens.

  10. betsy says:

    The bottom line – Clooney’s comments will annoy a lot of older people in the UK – the ones who are more likely to go see his rather old fashioned film. I’ll be interested to see the box office.

    Clooney’s holier than thou attitude gets on my t*ts.

  11. AnnieCL says:

    Yes, of course – the English are reactionary buffoons..’nuff said!

  12. toto says:

    well at least Americans returned part of what they looted from Iraq during Iraq war, hope the British troops return it too. such people loot the human life and full countries fortunes and they authorize it under different names so no wonder they hate what George says. Upper class thieves

  13. Dap says:

    Is it even true that the nazis were considering sending back the Marbles to Athens? Since they looted all the gold they could find, left the population starving and considered themselves the true descendants of the Ancient Greeks, I very much doubt it.

  14. Mark Wilson says:

    ENGLAND ENGLAND ENGLAND ENGLAND it alllll Englands fault !!!!

    Elgin was SCOTTISH, not English.

    oh and I guess he didn’t visit the Pergamon Museum while he was in Berlin.

  15. Maple Yank says:

    …. But Matt Damon, who was also present at the press conference, laughed: “That can’t always be the British default setting. It’s not actually an argument to say, ‘He’s American, he doesn’t get it’.”

    Ha! Good for you, Matt, you paid attention in Logic class. Americans living in Canada hear this all the time as well. “Americans DO or DO NOT x,y or z because they’re American.” If this is an argument, it’s circular and/or based on an invalid premise. But maybe it doesn’t rise to the level of argument. It might instead be a stereotype used as an explanation. That’s just lazy.

    Boris, if you want to call George Clooney an ignorant twit, just say so. But don’t say he’s an ignorant twit because he’s an American. Then he’d have every right to say that you’re a pretentious bore because you’re British.

    • Maria says:

      Love Matt Damon for that. He’s one cool dude.

    • Cirien says:

      When it was always Britain’s default to say that? Have we said it before? Look Clooney is well within his rights to say he thinks that Britain should give back the marbles that’s fine, but he might consider trying a bit diplomatic answer next time. I mean shouldn’t Germany give back the Neferiti bust? It was stolen by Hitler’s cronies after all. This is horribly derailing, but the holier than thou tone of Clooney and Damon and Murray raises my hackles.

      (And for god’s Sake George it’s the “U.K” not England when referring to the nation)

      • Emily C. says:

        Yes, Germany should give back the Nefertiti bust. Are we only allowed to say a country should give back artifacts if we list every single country that should give back artifacts?

        Also, it’s perfectly appropriate to refer to “England” in this context.

  16. Jessica says:

    They are no longer called the Elgin marbles–haven’t been for a while. Scholars call them the Parthenon Sculptures. Much more appropriate term.

    As far as the Brit’s comment about Clooney… Clooney doesn’t understand, not because he’s American, but because he is not informed. This is a big issue that Clooney is oversimplifying.

  17. Ashley says:

    I’ll throw another element into the discussion: More and more museums these days are doing “virtual exhibits,” including three-dimensional views of artifacts on display. So the argument about accessibility tends to fall apart when you don’t have to fly to London, or Athens, or Paris in order to get to see something–often in much more detail–by simply getting on the computer.

    When you’re discussing where the items ought to be, I tend to vote that they ought to be with the descendants of the people who created them wherever possible. Wars and looting move over the map like tides, and things tend to wash up in unexpected places. But that’s not to say they can’t be returned.

  18. Amy says:

    Athens is not that expensive to get to. Getting to Europe is expensive–sure. But if you’ve ever studied abroad in Europe, then you know all about Easyjet and RyanAir (which RyanAir is the devil airline by the way, if you’ve ever had to take it I am so sorry, it’s equivalent to Spirit Airlines in the USA and I want to smack their CEO Michael O Leary every time he opens his mouth). You can most likely connect to Athens on Easyjet from London because Easyjet is a British airline. And I don’t remember Athens being expensive but then I stayed in a hostel because that’s what we students studying abroad in Ye Olde Europe did. Plus I had student ID at the time so I got in to all the major sites for free, including the Acropolis.

    Athens is not that expensive when compared to London. I stayed at a friend’s apartment while staying in London and I definitely spent WAY more money there in 4 days than I did 4 days in Athens.

  19. Emily C. says:

    I am very tired of England trying to gloss over its imperialistic, colonial history. It gets particularly precious when they get on their high horses about Americans not getting it. Suck it up and take your blows, people — European imperialism in general, and England’s in particular, are responsible for a large amount of the mess the world’s in today. The U.S. has only continued (to our great shame) what Europe started. Until Europe admits their culpability, I’m not all that inclined to listen to them.

  20. raincoaster says:

    Ah, Boris. Never change. The world just wouldn’t be the same if you started making sense.

    Boris is always at his funniest when he knows he hasn’t got a leg to stand on, so he tries to sell it with humour.

    Fun fact: Boris is ALSO an American, having been born in NYC.

  21. jazzy says:

    Umm, but can we just talk about his body language with DuJardin? Wow.