Monday , November 29 2021

Stolen mosaic from the 6th century in Cyprus


After a long treasure hunt, a Dutch art expert has just found Monaco fragment of one of the frescoes stolen from churches in Cyprus after the Turkish invasion of 1974.

Exceptional work. The Byzantine mosaic, a fragment of one of the frescoes stolen from the churches in Cyprus after the Turkish invasion in 1974, returned to the country a Dutch art expert after hunting for several years. The nickname "Indian Jones from the Artistic World" for his research ventures, Arthur Brand said that on Friday he presented St. Mark, from the sixth century, the embassy of Cyprus to The Hague to a private ceremony. This mosaic, which was in the church of Panaiia Kanakaria (northeast of Cyprus), "is one of the last and most beautiful examples of early-Byzantine art," the enthusiast said. AFP, a few hours before its delivery. The invited Embassy and the Church of Cyprus did not want to comment. The sculptor's department did not immediately respond.

Found in Monaco

Arthur Brand posing with the mosaic of St. The mark he found in Monaco.

Arthur Brand posing with the mosaic of St. The mark he found in Monaco. JAN HENNOP / AFP

With the information coming from the main art dealer in London, an amateur detective went to Monaco in August. And thanks to a series of intermediaries, including several in the world of the black market, he found traces of mosaics in the apartment in the Principality. But in the adventures of his journey, Arthur Brand prefers to keep the mystery. Work "belonged to the British family who bought a mosaic in good faith more than 40 years ago," he says. "They are upset when they found it to be an invaluable treasure of art, stolen from the Church of Kanakaria after the Turkish invasion" in 1974. The family agreed to return the job to the "Cypriot people" with a small amount to cover the costs of restoration and storage, Brand said. A week ago, a Dutch expert – who worked in cooperation with the Cypriot church – returned to Monaco to recover a mosaic, estimated at between five and ten million euros.

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"It was one of the best moments of my life," he admits. Arthur Brand gained worldwide fame in 2015, after finding two bronze horses of Josef Thorak in Germany, one of the official sculptors of the Third Reich, who adorned the entry of Hitler's office in Berlin, which disappeared after the fall of the wall. Arthur Brand once again named himself a year later to help find five of the 17th and 17th century Flemish painters, stolen by a group of criminals in Ukraine.

"Mosaics of Kanakaria are of great importance"

Maria Pafiti, an art historian and specialist in Byzantine art

Religious art objects, including mosaics, were stolen from several churches in northern Cyprus after the invasion of the Turkish forces. The church of Panaiia Kanakaria, located about 100 kilometers from Nicosia, was most lured by his Byzantine artwork, including a set of mosaics. Many parts of these mosaics landed on the black market and did not find it for many years, despite a constant search by the government and the sculptor church. "Mosquitoes of Kanakaria are of great importance in Christian art and world culture," says Maria Pafiti, an art historian and specialist in Byzantine art.

The ensemble "is one of the few works of art that escaped the threat of the Byzantine iconoclasm" in the eighth and ninth centuries, she says. So far, twelve fragments of mosaics have been restored, including one representing the apostle Andrew. It was bought by a collector on sale in 2010, which in 2014 asked Maria Pafiti to identify the origin of the mosaic. Then the buyer agreed to return it to Cyprus. In 1989, another four fragments were shown showing the upper part of Christ, two apostles and archangels. According to Pafhiti, most of the missing fragments were recovered between 1983 and 2015, but some parts are still missing. Mozaik Sv. The brand "is really one of the last great parts that are coming back," said Arthur Brand. "It's incredible to think that this work of art has lasted so long, it's part of the soul of the Cypriot people," he continues. The mosaic should be returned to the Mediterranean island in the coming days.

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