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Amal Clooney wades into Elgin Marbles debate during Greece trip

Lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney, right, shakes hands with Greek Culture Minister Constantinos Tassoulas during their meeting in Athens on Tuesday.
Lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney, right, shakes hands with Greek Culture Minister Constantinos Tassoulas during their meeting in Athens on Tuesday.
(Pool / Getty Images)

George Clooney dramatized the work of historians rescuing art from the Nazis in his movie “The Monuments Men.” Now the actor-director’s wife, lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney, is lending her newfound celebrity to the long-running dispute over the Elgin Marbles, which reside in Britain but are claimed by Greece.

Amal Clooney traveled to Greece this week to lend her legal expertise to local authorities concerning the cultural dispute surrounding the ancient works of art.

Her visit was expected to include meetings with the country’s Culture Minister Constantinos Tassoulas and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. She is also scheduled to tour the Acropolis with fellow lawyer Geoffrey Robertson.

Eddie O’Hara, the chairman of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, told the Telegraph that “we really welcome celebrities getting involved. As campaigners we chip away at changing public opinion, but people take notice of celebrities, so it’s good news for us.”

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The committee has long fought for the repatriation of the marbles that the 7th Earl of Elgin took from Greece during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The sculptural works were part of a larger set of pieces at the Parthenon and other parts of the Acropolis.

The Elgin Marbles -- also known as the Parthenon Sculptures -- currently reside at the British Museum in London. O’Hara said in a statement on the committee’s website that “giving the sculptures from the Parthenon, displayed in the UK back to Greece, would be a grand gesture on cultural and ethical grounds.”

Britain acquired the marbles from Lord Elgin in 1816. The year 2016 will mark the 200th anniversary of that purchase.

George Clooney has spoken publicly about his desire to see the works returned to Greece. In February, while promoting “The Monuments Men” at the Berlin Film Festival, the actor-director told a reporter that he thought returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece is the “right thing to do.”

Britain has long fought to keep the marbles, claiming that the British Museum has a legal title to the works. Greece’s government has disputed that title, saying that the works were looted from their sites.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT


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