John Oliver opted for a longer show on Sunday night, but he needed the time. As this week’s main segment, the “Last Week Tonight” host went on an extensive tear over the British Museum — and museums in general — for stealing artifacts.
To kick off the segment, Oliver first called up sculptures that are housed at the Acropolis Museum in Greece. He noted that, in some sculptures, pieces of them are very white compared to the rest of the piece, because missing pieces have been filled in by plaster. But where exactly are those missing pieces? Well, Oliver didn’t want to implicate himself, but he had an answer: the British Museum.
“Yup, we took it! Honestly, if you’re ever looking for a missing artifact, nine times out of 10, it’s in the British Museum,” Oliver said. “It’s basically the world’s largest Lost and Found, with both ‘lost’ and ‘found’ in the heaviest possible quotation marks there.”
And though Oliver targeted museums at large in his segment, he did continually make digs at his own country, slamming British defenses of keeping the artifacts, which have included reasons like Britain being able to care for them better than their home countries.
The late night host also latched onto to the defense that “it was a different time back then — everybody looted and it was totally OK” — specifically calling up footage of British Prime Minister William Gladstone’s response to the British Army stealing Ethiopian treasures. In it, he said he “deeply lamented” that the artifacts “were thought fit to be brought away by the British Army.”
“We didn’t even know how to fix a UTI without leeches back then,” Oliver mocked. “But we knew that raiding other countries for their s— was ‘deeply lamentable,’ which is British for ‘super f—ed up.’”
You can watch Oliver’s full segment on museums in the video above.