EVIDENCE TO THE POLICE OF ELGIN'S THEFT OF THE MARBLES
Monday 23rd February 2004
Parthenon Marbles and other Grecian artefacts.
With the discovery of five new pieces of evidence regarding the above,
I believe the police should now consider the Parthenon or so called Elgin
Marbles as stolen property. Similarly other relics brought from Greece
and offered for sale to Parliament by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin
(hereinafter Elgin), but not accepted, should be considered likewise.
The five new pieces of evidence are:
1. The Parthenon and other so called Elgin Marbles were probably obtained
2. Elgin lied to the Select Committee of Parliament, which purchased the
3. Elgin had no authority to dismantle structures or desecrate graves.
4. Elgin used a bogus anonymous Memorandum written by himself or his Chaplin/
Occasional Private Secretary, Dr Philip Hunt, (hereinafter Hunt) to support
his petition of Parliament.
5. Elgin or his staff bribed Turkish occupation officials to allow the
theft of artefacts.
In light of this new evidence I would ask Fife Constabulary to consider
A complaint against the occupants of Broomhall House, Charlestown,
Greek stelae, or grave markers and other items not bought by the British
Government in 1816 are reported by the press to be currently housed in
Broomhall House, Broomhall Estate, by Charlestown, Fife. This address
is the home of the descendants of Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin. I would
respectfully ask the Chief Constable of Fife Constabulary to investigate
a Prima Facie case of possession of stolen goods by the occupants
of Broomhall House, there being no statute of limitation for such matters
A complaint against the owners of the British Museum London.
As fraud negates all statutory provisions or court regulations regarding
time limitations there is a Prima Facie case that the British Museum
in London is housing property stolen from Greece at a time when that country
was under illegal foreign occupation. This stolen property which includes
the Parthenon frieze was bought by Parliament for the nation from Thomas
Bruce 7th Earl of Elgin for £35,000.00 in 1816. I would respectfully
ask the Chief Constable of Fife Constabulary to investigate this matter
or pass this information on to their colleagues in London for action.
Background and new information.
1. The Parthenon and other so called Elgin Marbles were probably obtained
Professor David Rudenstine, an expert on Constitutional Law and Head of
the Cardozo Faculty of Law at Yeshiva University New York has recently
researched the above. In his research Professor Rudenstine has proved
beyond a reasonable doubt that the widely held belief that an 1801 Ottoman
authorisation document, which allowed Elgin's party to remove marbles
from the Parthenon walls was accurately translated for the Select Committee,
is wrong (1).
It is well known that at least two so called firmans were granted to Elgin's
party, one in 1800 gave permission to Elgin's artists to model and draw
the Parthenon, and the second, or new firman granted in 1801 allowed the
artists to model, draw, excavate and remove stones from the rubble in
In his close examination of the documentary evidence available Prof. Rudenstine
found that at no time was an Ottoman document or Firman produced to Parliament
as evidence of the legitimacy of the removal of the marbles from the Parthenon
walls. Whatever the Select Committee of Parliament examined in 1816, it
was not the second 1801 Ottoman firman, but was instead either: a/ an
Italian letter purported to be a translation of an Ottoman document, or:
b/ an inaccurate and misleading English translation of the Italian letter.
Professor Rudenstine proved that the Italian letter was not signed and
had other deficiencies that were not translated accurately to the English
letter, which was enhanced to present it as something that it was not.
All of this was to Elgin's benefit. It is a matter of fact that the Select
Committee were wrong to consider the English letter translation as being
an accurate established documentary link to the Ottoman document.
Although Professor Rudenstine stops short of labelling the actions of
Elgin's party (in unauthorised removal), and the Select Committee (in
accepting flawed authority for removal) illegal, he casts doubt on the
propriety of both of these actions. Professor Rudenstine gives some credence
to the evidence of Elgin and Hunt. I am able to go further than the Professor
as I am now in possession of evidence that the only two witnesses to speak
of the documents to the Select Committee, Elgin and Hunt, were individually
or jointly party to misrepresenting other documents to that Committee
and in consequence all of their evidence must be viewed as untrue.
If I am correct it must follow that the legitimacy of the Elgin marbles
held by the British Museum is at best questionable and probably illegal.
In a similar way that documents accepted by the British Museum as legitimate
provenance for the art collection of Dr Arthur Feldmann were questionable
and led back to German officials in occupied Czechoslovakia Circa: 1939-45.
The art collection of Dr Feldmann was nevertheless bought by the British
Museum despite having a murky provenance.
In 2000 the "Commission for Looted Art in Europe" sought restitution
for Dr Feldmann's artworks and the British Museum conceded that the Commission
had a "compelling claim". Ways forward are currently being negotiated
between the parties which include the possibility of a referral to the
"Spoilation Advisory Panel" (2).
Other than the passage of time there is little difference between the
questionable actions of the British Museum in buying unsubstantiated artefacts
looted from occupied countries in these two cases (Elgin & Feldmann).
Footnotes Section 1
1. See David Rudenstine "A Tale of Three Documents" generally
PDF Pages 9-39
2. See "Commission for Looted Art in Europe" Press Release.
PDF Pages 42-43
2. Elgin lied to the Select Committee of Parliament that purchased
Professor Rudenstine has established that Elgin lied to Parliament by
stating that he (Elgin) personally travelled to Athens with the second
firman. This revelation by the Professor is substantiated by correspondence
from Hunt to Richard William Hamilton stating that he (Hunt) was leaving
for Athens within days with a new firman. It is known from Hunt's correspondence
to Elgin that Hunt took the letters allowing Elgin's party to dig, (the
so called second firman) to the Voivode, or governor of Athens in July
Elgin however stated in his evidence to Parliament (3) in 1816 that the
second firman was addressed by the Porte to the local authorities in Athens
"to whom I delivered it".
In addition to the overwhelming case made by Prof. Rudenstine that Elgin
lied to Parliament in stating that he took the second firman personally
to Athens, are two further references which contradict Elgin's statement
to the Select Committee.
The first being that it is a matter of record from the letters of the
Countess of Elgin (hereinafter Mary Nisbet), that Elgin did not set out
for Athens to see the effect of the new firman which Pisani obtained in
1801, or as she put it (4) : "a whole year later, Lord Elgin was
at last able to visit the scene of the operations himself",. Mary
Nisbet then goes on in the same letter to her mother dated 10th April
1802 to say regarding their departure for Greece (5) : "We sailed
from Constantinople monday evening the 28th of March," and later
in the same letter states (6): "It was between 8 and 9 O'clock when
we arrived in Athens" (3rd April 1802).
The second piece of evidence indicating that it was Hunt as opposed to
Elgin who took the second firman to Athens is that Hunt stated in his
evidence to Parliament in answer to a question regarding permission to
pull down a house (7) : "No; I am confident no such permission was
in the fermaun I took to Athens, though it contained general permission
to excavate near the temples".
This evidence from Hunt, who was the last witness to testify to the Committee,
together with the letters of Mary Nisbet (8) and Hunt (to Hamilton and
Elgin) flatly contradict Elgin's testimony to the Select Committee.
Footnotes Section 2
3. See "Report From The Select Committee". PDF Page177.
4. See "Letters of Mary Nisbet of Dirleton" .
PDF Page 264
5. See "Letters of Mary Nisbet of Dirleton". PDF Page 265
6. See "Letters of Mary Nisbet of Dirleton". PDF Page 266
7. See "Report From The Select Committee" PDF Page 220
8. See "Letters of Mary Nisbet of Dirleton" generally PDF Pages
3. Elgin had no authority to dismantle structures or desecrate graves.
Professor Rudenstine's revelations also disclosed that whatever the second
firman, or the purported Italian translation of that letter authorised
Elgin or his party to do it was not to dismantle the structure of the
Parthenon but instead limited the extent of the activities sanctioned
to digging among the rubble of the Parthenon. No letter of permission
has ever been presented to Parliament or anywhere else as authority to
plunder artefacts and sacred relics from churches, graveyards, or other
places outwith the Parthenon. This is evident from the new firman translation
which is appended to the Report of the Select Committee (9) and from the
letters of Mary Nisbet.
Footnotes Section 3
9. See "Report From The Select Committee". PDF Pages 231-232
4. Elgin used a bogus anonymous Memorandum written by himself or his
Chaplin/ Occasional Private Secretary, Dr Philip Hunt, to support his
petition of Parliament
My dormant interest in the Elgin Marbles was awakened in 2001 when I read
an article by a history Professor, Epaminondas Vranopoulos, who wrote
about the marbles and in Chapter 10 of the article (10) made reference
to an anonymous book found in the library of the Estia of Nea Smyrni (a
suburb of Athens). The book is in praise of Elgin's virtue and stresses
the immense financial and artistic value of all of Elgin's collections
in Greece. The book was published in 1815 in London and Professor Vranopoulos
believed that Wiliam Richard Hamilton, Elgin's private secretary, in fact
I set out to research the book, which is entitled "MEMORANDUM ON
THE SUBJECT OF THE EARL OF ELGINS PURSUITS IN GREECE" in the National
Library of Scotland and found that the library contained three editions
of this book title by three different publishers on three separate dates.
One of the books could be the 1815 London edition that Professor Vranopoulos
found. The three books are:
An 1810 edition (11) printed in Edinburgh by Balfour Kirkwood & Co.
An 1811 edition (12) printed in Edinburgh by Balfour Kirkwood & Co.
An 1815 second edition (13), corrected, printed in London for John Murray,
Albermarle Street by W. Bulmer and Co. Cleveland-Row.
I then found evidence of another edition of the Memorandum by way of a
literary review from a publication entitled, "The British Review,
and London Critical Journal." This journal contains a critique (14)
of an 1811 edition of the Memorandum published by Millar of which the
"This publication relates, that much has been performed by the
exertions of Lord Elgin, in redeeming the specimens of sculpture and architecture
which remained in Greece, and in transmitting them to England. On reading
this splendid account, it is matter of some curiosity to know the name
and character of the author. The publication is anonymous; yet, if the
whole be not a fabrication, which incontrovertibly it is not, the writer,
if not the hero, of the tale is some one mentally connected with his lordship;
for he determines not only what Lord Elgin performed, but he presumes
to specify what Lord Elgin "conceived." (p. 18) This folletto,
or familiar of his lordship, begins by informing the public, that in the
year 1799, when Lord Elgin was appointed to be his Majesty's ambassador
extraordinary to the Ottoman Porte, he happened* to be in frequent intercourse
with Mr Harrison, an architect of eminence in the west of England;"
Footnote on page * Why expressed as a casualty?"
It is interesting to note that in the 1810 edition the wording of the
first paragraph is slightly different and reads (15) :
"he happened to be in much intercourse with Mr Harrison".
The 1811 second edition is again slightly different and reads (16) :
"he happened to be in habits of intercourse with Mr Harrison"
The 1815 edition removes the word happened and reads (17) :
"he was in habits of frequent intercourse with Mr Harrison"
It would seem to me that in light of the comments by the literary critic
in the footnote of the British Review & London Critical Journal the anonymous
author who, "seemed to be mentally connected" to Elgin had altered
subsequent editions of the Memorandum to take account of this criticism.
It should also be noted that in the 1815 Memorandum (as the Select Committee
hearing approaches) various letters in addition to the two from Benjamin
West (which feature in all editions) appear in praise of Elgin and his
efforts and one fawning anonymous letter (18) compares Elgin's marbles
equal in value to a Napoleon's Borghese collection worth £500.000.00.
The National Library of Scotland is clear in identifying the author of
the 1811 and 1815 editions as Bruce, Thomas, 7th Earl of Elgin. In the
case of the 1810 edition the National Library attributes the author as
being Benjamin West, President of the Royal Academy whose two letters
to Lord Elgin form an appendix to all four editions (3 in N.L.S. & 1 in
British Review & London Critical Journal). In a sense this is partly correct
as West was a co-author in that his 2 letters form part of the Memorandums.
As the forerunner to the National Library in Scotland, the Library of
the Faculty of Advocates (Advocates' Library) formed in 1689 was entitled
to receive a copy of every book printed in Great Britain from the publishers
by virtue of a Royal Charter granted by Queen Ann in 1710. If it is the
case that the contemporaneous records (19) of the Advocates' Library are
correct and the author in the Advocates' Library "Catalogue of Accessions
to 1871" is quite clearly stated, then Lord Elgin wrote his own reference.
This Memorandum of reference was then sent to Parliament together with
his petition under cover of his letter dated May 6th 1811 to the Right
Honourable Charles Long MP with a Postscript added February 1816. The
letter states (20) :
"The Memorandum recently published, on the subject of my pursuits
in Greece (of which I did myself the honour of sending you a copy), and
the inspection of my Museum, will sufficiently explain that my undertaking
could have had no other object...."
If the Parliamentary Select Committee was given the latest and corrected
edition of the Memorandum to replace the original 1810 edition it is likely
that the additional appendices would have had an influence on the Committee's
opinion of the propriety of Elgin's actions and the monetary compensation
arising from same.
There is another possible explanation regarding the identity of the anonymous
author of the Memorandum that supported Elgin's petition to Parliament.
This explanation is supported by several factors, is just as damaging
to Elgin's reputation and the legitimacy/provenance of the marbles, and
it is that Hunt wrote the Memorandum.
A similar theory was favoured by Dr Epaminondas Vranopoulos however when
I investigated his premise I found it to be accurate up to a point but
wrong with regard to the identity of the author.
The author of the Memorandum was in fact Hunt. This fact is verifiable
by cross referencing the Memorandum and the letters of Hunt. In 1805,
Hunt wrote to Mrs Hamilton Nisbet (Elgin's mother in law) from Pau, near
Lourdes, France, where he was imprisoned with the Elgins. The language
in Hunt's letter is almost identical to that used in the 1810 Memorandum
and differs only by way of the pretence of anonymity attempted in the
latter. For Example Hunt's letter of 1805 states (21) :
"Near the Parthenon are three temples so connected in their structure,
and by the rites celebrated in them, that they may be almost considered
as a triple temple. They are of small dimensions, and of the Ionic Order.
One of them dedicated to Neptune and Erectheus; the second to Minerva
Polias the Protectress of Citadels; the third to the Nymph Pandrosos.
It was on the spot where these temples stand that Minerva and Neptune
are supposed to have contended for the honour of naming the city. Athenian
superstition long shewed the mark of Neptunes's trident, and a briny fountain,
that attested his having there opened a passage for his horse; and the
Original Olive tree produced by Minerva was venerated in the Temple of
Pandrosos as late as the time of the Antonines".
"The temple of Minerva Polias is of the most delicate and elegant
proportions of the Ionic Order; the capitals and bases of the columns
are ornamented with consummate taste; and the sculpture of the frize and
cornice is exquisitely rich. One has difficulty to conceive how marble
has been wrought to such a depth, and brought to so sharp an edge; the
palmetti, onetti, etc. have all the delicacy of works in metal".
The 1810 Memorandum states: It is not necessary to reproduce the text
of the Memorandum here as it is, verbatim, a duplication of Hunt's letter
with the exception of the last line where the Memorandum (22) refers to
"ovetti, &c." as opposed to "onetti etc". in Hunt's
Further evidence of Hunt being the author of the Memorandum can be found
by comparing references to the Posticum of the Parthenon in Hunt's letter
from Pau in 1805, and the 1810 Memorandum. Here in identical descriptive
passages the writer of the letter is forced to change (23) "I also
procured some valuable inscriptions" into "Lord Elgin also procured
some valuable inscriptions" in the Memorandum (24), so as to preserve
a sham of objectivity and anonymity.
That the anonymous Memorandum was taken from the letters or writings of
Hunt is now undeniable and can be proven further if such proof were necessary
by examining a portion of Hunt's letter where reference to what actions
we (Hunt and Elgin) had jointly taken is deleted from the letter text
so as to preserve Hunt's anonymity in the Memorandum. For example, Hunt's
letter of 1805 states (25) :
"One of the bombs fired by Morosini, the Venetian from the opposite
hill of the Musæum injured many of the figures of this fronton,
and the attempt of General Königsmark to take down the figure of
Minerva ruined the whole.
By purchasing the house of one of the Turkish Janissaries built immediately
under it, and then demolishing it in order to excavate, Lord Elgin has
had the satisfaction of recovering the greatest part of the Statue of
Victory, in a drapery which discovers all the fine form beneath, with
as much delicacy and taste as the Flora Farnésé. We also
found there the Torso of Jupiter, part of Vulcan, and other fragments.
I believe his Lordship has also had the Hadrian and Sabrina taken down
and sent to England. On the other frontispiece was the contest
between Minerva and Neptune about giving a name to the city. The goddess
of Wisdom had just gained the victory by proving how much greater a benefit
she should confer by the peaceful and productive olive, than the God of
the Ocean by his warlike gift of a horse."
The 1810 Memorandum has an almost identical passage which deals with the
bolded section above that would have identified the author by omitting
that revealing section and replacing it with (26): "Lord Elgin also
found there the torso of Jupiter, part of Vulcan, and other fragments."
It would appear that Elgin misled the Parliament by presenting a supposedly
anonymous document of testimony that he himself dictated to his accomplice,
or that Hunt had written while in prison in France with Elgin. Given the
close confines of their detention at Pau it would be surprising if Elgin
was not aware of the writings of his closest aide to his mother-in-law
and perhaps the writings of Hunt were part of a conspiracy to persuade
Parliament that Elgin had acted properly in acquiring all manner of relics,
and that these items should be purchased for the nation at an inflated
monetary value which would benefit the seller and his accomplice.
At best, if, as seems likely, the Advocates Library were informed of the
correct identity of the author by the publisher who supplied copies of
the various Memoranda (as per the 1710 Queen Ann Act), it would suggest
that Elgin plagiarised Hunt's letters or writings into anonymous Memoranda
Whatever the circumstances, by writing or having his Chaplin/Occasional
Private Secretary write his own reference Elgin, or Hunt, or both Elgin
& Hunt misled Parliament by allowing his Memorandum to be used for fraudulent
purposes without demur and giving evidence to Parliament without disclosing
the fact that Hunt was the original author of the narrative, which became
the anonymous Memorandum in support of Elgin's petition. These matters
require further investigation by Parliament and the police.
Footnotes Section 4
10. See "Epaminondas Vranopoulos" C10. PDF Pages 40-41
11. See "1810 Memorandum" Generally PDF Pages 44-61
12. See "1811 Memorandum" Generally PDF Pages 62-95
13. See "1815 Memorandum" Generally PDF Pages 96-149
14. See "The British Review & London Critical Journal" Generally
PDF Pages 150-160 & Page 150
15. See "1810 Memorandum" PDF Page 45
16. See "1811 Memorandum" PDF Page 63
17. See "1815 Memorandum" PDF Page 99
18. See "1815 Memorandum" PDF Page 146
19. See "Advocates Library Catalogue of Accessions 1871" PDF
20. See "Report From The Select Committee 1816" PDF Page 226
21. See "Letters of Mary Nisbet of Dirleton" PDF Page 280
22. See "1810 Memorandum" PDF Page 52
23. See "Letters of Mary Nisbet of Dirleton" PDF Page 278
24. See "1810 Memorandum" PDF Page 50
25. See "Letters of Mary Nisbet of Dirleton" PDF Page 277-278
26. See "1810 Memorandum" PDF Page 49
5. Sacrilegious acts were committed after bribing occupation officials.
The "Report From The Select Committee on The Earl of Elgin's Collection
of Sculptured Marbles &c." contains various contradictory sets of
accounts from Elgin purporting to be his expenses for excavating and transporting
the several hundreds of Marble pieces, tomb headstones, alters, burial
urns, medals etc. Within Elgin's bill to Parliament there is twice reference
to the amount of 21,902 (27) Piastres for "Presents found necessary
for the local authorities, in Athens alone"
Elgin or members of his party bribed Turkish officials in the occupied
city of Athens and other occupied territories to allow the unauthorised
or illegal removal of all manner of items including sacred items such
as altars, tomb headstones ( Hunt described as Cippi), and funereal urns.
In Hunt's accounts of finding a funereal urn which could have belonged
to Aspasia he waxes lyrical about the quality of the outer marble urn,
the inner alabaster urn, and the myrtle wreath of gold that the buried
lady had worn, yet mentions nothing of her remains other than to refer
to a deposit of burnt bones (28), which, presumably would have been decanted
without ceremony onto a rubbish heap. This hypocrisy from a so called
man of god is tantamount to a confession of grave robbery and sacrilege.
It is sad to note that the current Earl of Elgin thinks fit to give interviews
to the press and pose for photographs in his basement study where the
walls are lined with ancient Greek stelae or grave markers (29).
Footnotes Section 5
27. See "Report From The Select Committee 1816" PDF Page 229
28. See "1810 Memorandum" PDF Page 54 & "Letters of Mary
Nisbet of Dirleton" PDF Page 282-283
29. See "Independent Article & Photo of Stelae" PDF Pages 284-286
I trust that you will treat this complaint (which arises out of new evidence)
seriously. It is a matter of some importance to the reputation of Scotland
that a name synonymous with our country should be besmirched by association
with misleading Parliament and inducing that Parliament to purchase stolen
and sacred artefacts on behalf of the nation.
I will be making a quite separate and distinct complaint to the Parliamentary
Standards Commissioner, Sir Philip Mawer calling on him to review the
matter of the purchase of the Elgin Marbles by Parliament in light of
facts now known which show evidence given to the Select Committee in 1816
to have been lies supported by bogus documentation. If my allegations
are investigated and found to be correct it would mean that the Parliament
of Great Britain spent the taxpayers' money to buy stolen goods from grave
The people of Great Britain have, in the past, had many injustices carried
out in the name of their Empire. Such things happen when nations have
Imperial ambitions but the recognition of injustices and willingness to
make reparation for such acts is surely the measure of a mature democracy.
The people in whose name such actions are taken have a right to expect
I look forward to a response at your earliest convenience.
C.c. Sir Philip Mawer, others.