BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Entertainment  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 18:16 GMT
Elgin Marbles letter fetches 7,000
The Elgin Marbles
The marbles date from between 447 and 432 BC
A letter which could help to resolve the row between Britain and Greece over the Elgin Marbles has been sold to a Greek buyer at auction for 7,000.

The handwritten 19th-Century letter, bought by an anonymous bidder from Athens, fetched seven times its reserve price after frantic bidding.

It was written by the British Ambassador in 1811 to the seventh Earl of Elgin, suggesting he had no right to buy the 5th-Century artefacts.

The 56 marble sculptures, which once adorned the frieze of the front of the Parthenon, were taken from Athens to England by Elgin and are now on display at the British Museum.

Artists' impression of Athens museum displaying marbles
Greece wants the marbles returned for an Athens museum display
Interest

Nathan Winter, who oversaw the auction at his brother Dominic's auction house in Swindon, Wiltshire, told BBC News Online there had been "significant interest at home and abroad".

He said: "After a bit of a tussle in the room, it went down to a fight between a telephone bidder and a commission bid, both in Greece.

"We ended up buying the item on behalf of a purchaser from Athens who had sent in a bid by fax earlier in the week."

With commission and tax, the final purchase price came to 8,234.10.

Mr Winter was unable to identify the buyer.

He said there was speculation the man may have been bidding on behalf of campaigners seeking return of the treasures to Athens.

The Elgin Marbles
The sculptures are on display at the British Museum
The draft letter, which had been expected to realise about 1,000, was written to Lord Elgin - Thomas Bruce - by ambassador Robert Adair in Constantinople (Istanbul).

It was acquired by auctioneers from the library of a family with historical connections to Lord Elgin.

The marbles have been at the centre of a row between Britain and Greece since Elgin was given permission to work on their protection in 1801 when Greece was still under Ottoman (Turkish) control.

Ceremonies

A recent campaign, Parthenon 2004, backed by more than 90 UK MPs and public figures, called for the marbles to be returned to Athens in time for the next Olympic Games.

The marbles date from between 447 and 432 BC and depict the most formal religious ceremonies of ancient Athens - the Panathenaea procession.

Groups opposing their return say they have been saved from deterioration from Greek pollution by being kept in the museum.

See also:

01 Nov 02 | Entertainment
17 Jan 02 | Entertainment
15 Jan 02 | Entertainment
16 Jan 02 | Entertainment
15 Oct 02 | Entertainment
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes