The Greek government is actively seeking the return of part of a 2,400-year-old centaur’s head that is currently on display at the Martin von Wagner Museum in Germany in the art collection of the University of Würzburg. The three-quarter head that was part of the Parthenon’s southern Metope 5 is attributed to sculptor Pheidias. The head apparently fell into the possession of Martin von Wagner – a German painter, sculptor and art collector – during the first half of the 19th century via an Italian private collection. At that time he did not know that this work of art was part of the Parthenon.
Now the Greek government via the Switzerland-based International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures is calling for its repatriation, as Yohen Grisbach, professor of Classical Archeology at the University of Würzburg says.
“We receive regular letters from Switzerland. There is a committee for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. But the answer is the same: unfortunately, we can not give back the work”, she said. She said that the University is unable to return the art as it would violate the request of Wagner who specifically demanded the piece not be sold or transferred anywhere.