LONDON (Reuters) – The British Museum said on Friday it had loaned one of the Elgin Marbles to Russia, the first time any of the ancient sculptures have left Britain since they were taken from the Parthenon in Athens 200 years ago.
The museum said it had lent the headless, reclining sculpture of the river god Ilissos to the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg as part of its 250th anniversary celebration.
The 2,500-year-old antiquities have long been a source of dispute between Britain and Greece, which has demanded the return of the Marbles since the Earl of Elgin took them and sold them to the British Museum in 1816.
Athens argues they were plundered while London says Greece has no legitimate claim to the statues.
“The Trustees of the British Museum … believe that the great things of the world should be shared and enjoyed by the people of the world,” Richard Lambert, chairman of the trustees, said in a statement.
“The Trustees are delighted that this beautiful object will be enjoyed by the people of Russia.”
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