Return of statue raises hopes in Greece

The Guardian 17 June 2005
Helena Smith in Athens

Bearing a message for the British Museum ... bronze kouros returned to Greece.

He's got a broken nose, has been called ugly, and is barely 12cm tall. But that is not stopping Greeks welcomed the return from London of a 6th century BC bronze kouros, seized from the Aegean island of Samos by Nazi looters 60 years ago.
Yesterday, as the statue was unveiled at a ceremony in Athens, Greece's culture minister Fani Palli-Petrallia said she hoped its repatriation would finally send a message to the British Museum.

That the pocket-sized figurine should return at all was thanks "not to a romantic philhellene" but James Ede, the London-based head of the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art, she said.

"I cannot thank Mr Ede without thinking of the Parthenon marbles at the British Museum," Ms Petrallia told the assembled crowd. "We are waiting and hoping that, one day, Mr Ede's move will be imitated by the British Museum."

Mr Ede decided to return the statue after discovering that it had been part of a published collection of monuments at the archaeological museum on Samos until the second world war.

Following the fate of so many antiquities during the Nazi occupation, the kouros is believed to have been looted when the Germans bombarded the island in November 1943. After winding up in the possession of a private collector in Switzerland, Mr Ede's antiquities firm acquired it earlier this year.

"We bought it from the collector's Greek widow, but once I discovered it was stolen, I immediately got in contact with the embassy in London to alert them to the fact," Mr Ede told the Guardian.

The authorities in Greece routinely offer rewards when antiquities are returned to the state. Every year, farmers invariably come forward to pick up a cheque after unearthing priceless monuments in their fields.

Mr Ede preferred to forfeit that right. Instead, he asked, that he be given a guided tour of the National Archaeological and Cycladic Museums, both of which had been closed the last time he visited Athens.,3604,1508327,00.html
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