Renowned British actor Stephen Fry compared the removal of the Parthenon Marbles from the ancient temple in Athens to Nazi Germany taking the Arc de Triomphe from Paris in an interview aired on Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) TV series titled “Stuff the British Stole”.

The first episode of the Australian TV series, which focuses on the artifacts the British Empire has illegally removed throughout its reign from countries from around the world, covered the Parthenon Marbles.

Commenting on the British side’s claims it had acquired the iconic Sculptures legally via an old Ottoman-era legal document in 1801-1805, called a “firman” – an argument which recently became even more tenuous following Turkey’s denial at UNESCO that such a document even existed – the British comedian told the host of the show: “the most scrupulously written document”, referring to the firman “was like saying ‘Well, Germany claims it should have the Arc de Triomphe and there’s the document that proves it.’ But the Nazis were an occupying force. What right did they have to give away parts of France? It wasn’t theirs to give away.”

Stephen Fry has been an outspoken supporter of the return of the iconic Sculptures to their rightful place in Athens, campaigning for the cause for the past decade.

This is the second time the actor has likened the extraction of the Marbles to hypothetical acts of cultural theft in a year. In 2023, Fry said their removal was the same as “removing the Eiffel Tower from Paris or Stonehenge from Salisbury” and in 2012 he proposed the UK use the 2012 London Olympics to “redress a great wrong”.

Last week members of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Marbles (BCRPM) held a protest inside the British Museum in London on Saturday for the return of the iconic sculptures to Greece.

The Sculptures are a collection of architectural decorations on the pediment of the Parthenon temple, at the summit of the Acropolis.

They include a frieze depicting the procession of the Panathenaic festival (the commemoration of the birthday of the goddess Athena); a series of metopes (sculpted relief panels) depicting the battle between Centaurs and Lapiths at the marriage feast of Peirithoos; and figures of the gods and legendary heroes from the temple’s pediments.

The British Museum currently houses 15 metopes, 17 pedimental figures, and 247ft (75m) of the original frieze.