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Sunday, 16 February 2014
George Clooney rejects Boris Johnson comments over Parthenon marbles
Actor shrugs off London mayor's claim of 'Hitlerian agenda' as 'too much hyperbole washed down with a few whiskies'
George Clooney at the UK premiere of The Monuments Men. Photograph: Andrew Cowie/AFP/Getty Images
George Clooney has dismissed comments made about him by the London mayor, Boris Johnson, as "too much hyperbole washed down with a few whiskies".
The actor spoke out after Johnson criticised him for suggesting Britain should return the Parthenon marbles to Greece.
Accusing Clooney of losing his own marbles, Johnson claimed the actor was "advocating nothing less than the Hitlerian agenda for London's cultural treasures".
But Clooney said: "I'm a great fan of the mayor, and I'm sure my right honourable friend had no real intention of comparing me to Hitler. I'd chalk it up to a little too much hyperbole washed down with a few whiskies. I've found myself in the same spot a time or two so I hold no ill will.
"When it comes to real facts, not imagined history, you need only to look at the Unesco rulings that have been agreed to by all parties. An occupying nation can't sell off the national heritage of the country it occupies.
"More relevant is the fact that the Parthenon marbles were chipped away from the Parthenon by the occupying Turks and sold. It was a single monument broken into bits. It would be as if the statue of David's head were sold to England, his arm to the Vatican and his torso to the Met."
He added: "There are many pieces in nearly every country that this conversation should take place. The best place to start would be at the most obvious object. When polled the British people are overwhelmingly in favour of their return. The rest of the world follows suit. If you want to deal in facts. Those are the facts. But maybe it's just easier to compare me to Hitler."
The row began when Clooney was asked about the sculptures, taken to Britain from the Parthenon in the 19th century, during a press conference to promote his new film The Monuments Men, inspired by the true story of a team of soldiers on a mission to rescue valuable artwork stolen by the Nazis during the invasion of Europe.
The British Museum has rejected repeated requests to send the marbles home, countering that it legally owns the collection and that it is displayed free of charge in an international cultural context.