Art Law Report

First Ripples in Greece from Parthenon Marble Loan to Russia

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 8, 2015 at 6:10 AM

Last month it was revealed that the British Museum had loaned a sculpture from the Parthenon, a/k/a Elgin, Marbles to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Reaction ranged from puzzlement to fury. Lee Rosenbaum pondered whether the loan was in fact a trial balloon to prepare for litigation, specifically, to rebut Greece’s claim that the sculptures are a single unified work that should be returned with an argument that the collection of individual objects is more complicated. My reaction really boiled down to the “law” of unintended consequences: once the UK put any of the objects outside its territorial control—let alone in Russia, which has shown little interest in the niceties of international loans and restitution—the British Museum may find itself in a Portrait of Wally situation. 

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Topics: cultural property, Defining Beauty: the Body in ancient Greek Art, Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, The Art Newspaper, Lee Rosenbaum, Elgin Marbles, Parthenon Marbles, Restitution, British Museum, Events, State Hermitage Museum, Portrait of Wally, The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Litigation

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About the Blog


The Art Law Report provides timely updates and commentary on legal issues in the museum and visual arts communities. It is authored by Nicholas M. O'Donnell, partner in our Art & Museum Law Practice.

The material on this site is for general information only and is not legal advice. No liability is accepted for any loss or damage which may result from reliance on it. Always consult a qualified lawyer about a specific legal problem.

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