An unnamed Greek shipping tycoon has offered to pay the fees of Amal Clooney and the law firm she works for, Doughty Street Chambers, in order to help repatriate the famous Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum.
Last October, Amal Clooney, lawyer and wife of famous actor George Clooney, visited Greece in order to discuss the legal aspects of bringing back the Parthenon Marbles with the Greek government.
According to a London Times report, a former Greek Culture Ministry official said on Monday that a shipping magnate, who operates in both Athens and London, and prefers to remain anonymous, offered to pay the legal fees for the endeavor. The former official declined to say who approached who. He said the government had deemed the fees “too extravagant” for crisis-stricken Greece.
The official quoted by the British newspaper worked for former Culture Minister Konstantinos Tasoulas who had started a campaign to claim back the Greek sculptures from the British Museum and had invited the team of lawyers in Athens.
“The arrangement came immediately after Mrs. Clooney and her boss, Geoffrey Robertson, visited Athens three months ago,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. He claimed the offer of outside aide allowed the Greek government to sidestep a public tender for the work, which he said would have been “controversial for both sides.” The Greek shipowner said his involvement is a patriotic gesture for Greece.
“Ever since, billing fees have been going straight to him,” the former official said.
When asked, Robertson said their fees would be paid by “a group of philanthropists at no expense to the Greek people,” the newspaper reported.
UNESCO is the mediator in the negotiations between Greece and the British Museum. The museum holds the sculptures since Lord Elgin sold them in the early 1800s. Athens has been trying to get them back for years.
The London lawyers are due to present a long report to the Greek government in the coming weeks.
“This opinion will be delivered after March 30, which is the deadline for the United Kingdom to reply to the UNESCO request for it to enter into mediation over the future of the Parthenon sculptures,” Robertson was quoted as saying.
The former Greek Culture Ministry official said the issue is receiving free publicity and legal advice, and that the Greek government would be foolish to miss this opportunity to bring the Parthenon Marbles back.