George Clooney has claimed that France should return the Mona Lisa to Italy during a promotional tour for his new film The Monuments Men, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The comments, which follow Clooney's repeated claims over the past week that Britain should return the Parthenon marbles to Greece, were reportedly made in Milan at a press event during which the film's cast posed in front of the famed Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece The Last Supper. The film's director was joined by co-stars Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin and John Goodman for the event.
Da Vinci's Mona Lisa is currently held in the Louvre in Paris, where it has hung since 1797. It was acquired by French king Francis I shortly after completion around 1518 and has only been shown in Italy once, in 1913, following its theft by an Italian patriot in 1911.
Italian authorities have regularly petitioned for the return of the world's most famous painting, most recently in 2012 ahead of the 100th anniversary of its restitution to France. Their Gallic counterparts have so far refused on the grounds that the work of art is too delicate to be moved. Clooney's reported remarks are said to have returned the matter to the public arena and sparked new calls in Italy for the return of the painting.
The actor-director's initial comments about the Parthenon marbles came at the Berlin film festival on Saturday while promoting The Monuments Men, the story of an Allied team trying to save art from the Nazis. "I think you have a very good case to make about your artefacts," Clooney told a Greek reporter. "Maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing if they were returned. I think that is a good idea. That would be a very fair and very nice thing. I think it is the right thing to do." He later repeated similar views in London and was backed by fellow cast members.
London mayor Boris Johnson has since bizarrely compared Clooney to Hitler for making the comments. "Someone urgently needs to restore George Clooney's marbles," he told the Daily Telegraph. "Here he is plugging a film about looted Nazi art without realising that Goring himself had plans to plunder the British Museum.
"And where were the Nazis going to send the Elgin marbles? To Athens! This Clooney is advocating nothing less than the Hitlerian agenda for London's cultural treasures. He should stuff the Hollywood script and stick to history."