Cyprus: Biggest antiquities theft case finally concludes after 27 years

Cyprus, June 12, 2024

Photo: Photo:     

“Today is undoubtedly a historic day and a day of joy,” the Synodal Committee of Monuments and Art of the Church of Cyprus stated yesterday.

The Church is rejoicing because finally, after 27 years of labors and legal battles, the Church’s most important case of antiquities theft after the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus has come to a close.

According to the statement, the Turkish antiquarian A. Dikmen, with the cooperation of the occupying regime, looted more than 50 Greek Orthodox, Maronite, and Armenian monuments, antiquities from museums, and private collections.

Photo: Photo: Among the thousands of items seized from the properties of the antiquities group in March 1997 were 318 Cypriot relics, including 6th-century mosaics, 8th–15th-century frescoes, icons, altar doors, manuscripts, and other antiquities.

The extended legal battle began in 2004. A partial repatriation of 173 relics took place in July 2013, and another 85 pieces in August 2015. The final stage of the Dikmen case came yesterday, with the signing of an agreement between Cyprus and Germany for the repatriation of 24 Church relics and 36 other antiquities.

The relics will be repatriated on June 20.

OrthoChristian has reported on the return of stolen Church valuables to Cyprus many times. In 2018, a 6th-century mosaic of St. Andrew the First-Called was returned; in 2019, relics of St. Mamas of Caesarea, which were also saved from auction, were returned to Cyprus; in 2021, 18th-century royal doors were repatriated from Japan to Cyprus; in February 2022, an 18th-century icon of St. John the Baptist was returned; and in July 2022, a 16th-century if icon of Christ was returned.

Follow OrthoChristian on Twitter, Vkontakte, Telegram, WhatsApp, MeWe, and Gab!


to our mailing list

* indicates required