French and Ottoman soldiers killed 200 Greeks in order to transfer to France the priceless statue of Venus de Milo in 1820, a Greek historian claims.
According to Greek historian Dimitris Fotiadis, who wrote the six-volume History of the Greek Revolution of 1821, the statue of Venus de Milo (Aphrodite of Milos) was discovered on the island of Milos in 1820. The island was occupied by the Ottomans at the time, and was found accidentally by a Greek farmer, Georgios Kentrotas, in his plot of land in April, in 1820.
Louis Brest, the French vice-consul on Milos, bought the statue from Kentrotas after the suggestion of French naval officer Olivier Voutier, who happened to be on the island at the time of discovery. The statue was sold for an unknown, but definitely small amount of money.
According to the Greek historian, the islanders found out about Kentrotas’ precious discovery and his transaction with the French and reacted strongly. According to Fotiadis, the residents of Milos tried to stop the French from loading the Aphrodite of Milos onto the French ship.
In the skirmish that ensued, the French soldiers shot at the angry islanders and killed several of them. The French finally managed to put the statue on board and leave for Piraeus, with hundreds of Milos residents following on small boats.
When the French ship docked at the Piraeus Port, the Milos islanders and other Greeks who were informed about the statue, gathered at Piraeus, This time the Greeks’ mission was to stop the ship from leaving for France and to take the statue back.
Fotiadis wrote that at least one thousand Greeks who were at the port clashed with the French ship crew and Ottoman soldiers who went there to protect the French.
More than 200 Greeks were killed in the fight and finally the statue of Aphrodite of Milos sailed for France. Today, Venus de Milo is one of the most-visited exhibits in the Louvre in Paris.
The Greek historian wrote that the farmers and fishermen of Milos fought and died to preserve Greece’s cultural heritage and that the events of the Venus de Milo plunder have been shrewdly kept a secret.