The British Museum has been likened to a criminal operation by one of Britain’s most famed barristers, who called the London institution the “world’s largest receiver of stolen property”.
Geoffrey Robertson QC, a human rights barrister and author, criticised the landmark for showcasing objects taken from “subjugated peoples” by “conquerors or colonial masters”.
Robertson made the blistering comments in his new book, Who Owns History? Elgin’s Loot and the Case for Returning Plundered Treasure, which was released today.
“The trustees of the British Museum have become the world’s largest receivers of stolen property, and the great majority of their loot is not even on public display,” he wrote, according to The Guardian.
Robertson used examples, such as the Elgin Marbles, Hoa Hakananai’a and the Benin bronzes, and “other pilfered cultural property”, denouncing the museum for allowing unaffiliated guides to host unofficial “stolen goods tour”.
“That these rebel itineraries are allowed is a tribute to the tolerance of this great institution, which would be even greater if it washed its hands of the blood and returned Elgin’s loot,” Robertson said.