Letter hints Elgin had no right to Marbles

A previously unknown draft letter from the British ambassador to Constantinople informing Lord Elgin that the Turkish authorities unofficially denied he had any right to the sculptures he removed from the Acropolis in the early 1800s will be sold at an auction in England tomorrow. In a July 31, 1811 draft response to a query by Elgin concerning the shipping of his collection from Piraeus, Robert Adair notes that «the Porte (the Sultan’s Court) absolutely denied your having any property in these marbles.» The ambassador said he had been given to understand, unofficially, that the Turkish officials who sold Elgin – a former British ambassador to the Porte himself – the fifth-century BC classical sculptures from the Parthenon and the Erechtheum had no right to do so. The Dominic Winter auction house expects the manuscript to sell for 700-1,000 pounds (1,100-1,570 euros).

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