British Museum holds secret talks with the Greek prime minister over Elgin Marbles

Museum chairman George Osborne says there is a 'deal to be done' to share them

Secret talks have been taking place between the UK and Greece over the return of the Parthenon Marbles, which are in London's British Museum.
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The British Museum is believed to have been holding secret talks with the Greek prime minister over the possible return of the Elgin Marbles.

George Osborne, chairman of the British Museum, has reportedly been holding negotiations with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in London since November 2021, according to Greek daily newspaper Ta Nea.

The paper quoted “insiders” as saying the talks were at an “advanced stage”.

It said the museum was seeking a “new” and “positive” partnership over the sculptures – 17 figures and part of a frieze that decorated the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple at the Acropolis.

Mr Mitsotakis is seeking the return of the items to Athens.

The marbles were taken by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century when he was the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, and have been the subject of a long-running dispute over where they should be displayed.

The Greek prime minister has called for the sculptures to be transferred on many occasions, even offering to loan other treasures to the British Museum in exchange.

It comes as Mr Osborne said there was a “deal to be done” to share the Parthenon Marbles with Greece.

“The British Museum has publicly called for a new Parthenon partnership with Greece and we’ll talk to anyone, including the Greek government, about how to take that forward," a British Museum spokesperson said.

“As the chair of trustees said last month, we operate within the law and we’re not going to dismantle our great collection as it tells a unique story of our common humanity. But we are seeking new positive, long-term partnerships with countries and communities around the world, and that of course includes Greece.”

Updated: December 03, 2022, 1:05 PM