The Louvre art museum in Paris has denied press reports that it will be restoring and exhibiting a bronze statue of the Greek god Apollo, which was found off the Gaza coast last summer.
Discovered by a fisherman in shallow water near the Egyptian-Gaza border, the 2,500-year-old, life-size statue has dropped off the radar since its initial appearance. It was briefly listed on eBay at a going price of $500,000, before apparently being taken by Hamas representatives for safekeeping.
Ahmed al-Borsh, director of Gaza's Antiquities Department, was recently quoted by American National Public Radio as saying that the Hamas government had the statue in storage and was hoping to leverage it to forge ties with Western institutions.
"We want to establish direct connections with official institutions who share our aim of protecting the statue," he saif.
"Direct connections" is the key phrase for Hamas. Considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, Hamas hopes that international interest in preserving the statue could crack open the door of isolation.
"If it's not restored in the right way, it will be destroyed," said Borsh. "I don't think they will find another Apollo."
This week the Louvre tokk itself out of the running as a potential restorer, according to the Art Newspaper website. The museum has not asked to borrow the work, a spokesperson said, and we will file a request with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, if we wish to proceed.