One of the long-contested Elgin Marbles has left the British Museum — but it's not going to Greece. A now-headless depiction of the river god Ilissos was sent to Russia's State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
The museum is celebrating its 250th anniversary, and the statue will be on loan through mid-January. The loan marks the first time any of the Elgin Marbles, which date to the fifth century B.C.E., have left the British Museum.
The marbles, once a part of the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple in Greece, have long caused tension between Greece and the U.K. Lord Elgin acquired the marbles in Athens in the early 19th century, and they've been at the British museum since 1816.
Greece, meanwhile, argues that Eigin illegally took the artifacts when Greece was under Turkish occupation from the Ottoman Empire. Greece's Acropolis Museum, which opened in Athens in 2009, has places for all of the Parthenon sculptures if they are returned.