I was honoured to be the invited introductory speaker at the Oxford Union in Nov. 2016 at a debate for the return of artefacts looted in colonial times. I spoke of course for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece.
The audience agreed with the arguments we presented with the distinguished archaeologist Dr Hawass of Egypt. The British university members and invited luminaries audience voted in favour of repatriation.
One of the two speakers AGAINST the return of stolen and looted items in foreign museums was Dr James Cuno, the CEO of the Getty Foundation. (See his speech on YouTubehttps://youtu.be/gmY6tkTBaks )
I would, therefore, advise my fellow Greeks and international supporters to be particularly cautious about rejoicing at the announcement of the Getty Foundation of a $100 million donation "to preserve Greek sites" and ask what is behind this.
I will remind readers c. 1990 Dr Marion True, director of the Getty Museum, whom I met in Moscow at that time , was discovered to be in possession of an illegally excavated and acquired (among other artefacts) golden wreath, which together with Minoan double-headed axes are perhaps the most valuable ancient Greek artefacts. Ms True was never tried in Greek courts and the case was dropped after the Getty Museum gave back two kouri statues to Greece amid great fanfare in the media. The question is why the Getty Foundation is now so interested in preserving Greek archaeological sites when their CEO is on public record for arguing against the restitution of our looted national and cultural symbol, the Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum.
Chairman of the International Parthenon Sculptures Action Committee