Statues, figurines, sculptures, pottery, jewelry, utensils and accessories, which were in the possession of Robin Symes Limited, a company in liquidation, have finally been recovered by the Greek State and are being repatriated following the successful outcome of their long-term claim. The 351 artifacts date from Neolithic to Early Byzantine times.
As Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni made the following statement: “A difficult case, which has troubled the Ministry of Culture and Sports for more than 17 years, is closed today, with the repatriation of many dozens of antiquities, which were illegally exported from our country. Over the past three years we have worked systematically and methodically, intensifying our efforts to achieve the end result. I thank the staff of the Ministry of Culture, for their hard work and dedication (…), in order to have these antiquities returned to our country. The repatriation of the illegally exported cultural goods is a priority for the Ministry of Culture and the Archaeological Service. Congratulations to all those who have contributed over the years to the happy outcome of the case.”
The starting point of this battle dates back to 2006, when the Greek authorities began an investigation into the property of Robin Symes LTD in Greece and abroad. After concerted and persistent efforts, which lasted 17 years in total, and which intensified particularly in the period 2020-2023, the Greek request has been accepted, resulting in the return of the claimed antiquities. Thus, the long-standing claim procedure on the part of Greece for the above-mentioned objects, which were in the possession of the company Robin Symes Limited, in liquidation, has been completed.
The repatriation of these antiquities has been a constant endeavour of all senior officials of the Ministry of Culture and Sports and the General Directorate of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage, who monitored and coordinated all the actions. There was a methodical and steady cooperation of many services of the Ministry of Culture, especially the Directorate of Documentation and Protection of Cultural Property, the National Archaeological Museum and the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.
Vassiliki Papageorgiou, head of the Directorate of Documentation and Protection of Cultural Property, and Elena Vlachogianni, head of department, made a great contribution. Many archaeologists of the Ministry of Culture and Sports had a decisive contribution in the documentation of the objects. Many archaeologists, among them Eleni Papazoglou-Manioudaki and Katerina Voutsa, participated in the working groups set up by the Ministry of Culture for the handling of the case. The former General Directorate of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage directors Elena Korka and Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki, as well as the current director of the Directorate Polixeni Adam-Veleni have participated as experts and as members of the working groups. The contribution of the Hellenic Police and the judicial authorities during the opening of the case was significant. The cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and Sports with the Legal Council of the State was crucial for the successful outcome of the case. The legal monitoring of the case was undertaken by Artemis Papathanasiou, Legal Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who also helped advancing the case through the Embassy of Greece in London.