For more than 25 years it formed part of Boy
George’s art collection.
But after being told that the icon of Christ had been
stolen from the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, the pop singer
has handed it back.
Incredibly, the church bishop had seen the battered
painting hanging from the wall of the singer's home while
watching a documentary on him on Dutch TV.
|Boy George and composer John Themis with the token of gratitude given them by the Church of Cyprus after the return of the icon, held by an unnamed official with Bishop Porfyrios|
|Watching over him: The Icon of Christ was hanging on the right hand side of mirror in George's 'walk-in wardrobe' on the programme filmed in 2008|
George, who of course has famously sung about miracles and churches with 'poisoned minds', had bought the 300-year-old piece in 1985 without knowing it had been snatched from a church during the 1974 Turkish invasion.
But Bishop Porfyrios, the Cyprus Orthodox Church’s representative in Brussels, made contact with him after spotting it above his fireplace at the gothic mansion in Hampstead, north London
Today, the 49-year-old singer handed it over to the cleric at nearby St Anagyre church.
The singer told the BBC: ‘I’m happy it is going back to its original, rightful home. I’ve always been a friend of Cyprus and have looked after the icon for 26 years.’
In return, the bishop gave him a modern version of the Jesus Christ Pantokrator painting as a token of gratitude and ‘with the wish that others soon follow his example'.
Thousands of religious artefacts went missing from northern Cyprus following Turkey’s 1974 invasion, which left the island’s Greek and Turkish speakers divided by partition.
Many relics have since appeared on the international art market and the Cyprus Church has been actively seeking to repatriate them.
Bishop Porfyrios, who caught only a glimpse of the gold-leaf image during the show he watched, delved deeper and discovered it had been plundered from the church of St Charalambous in Neo Chorio, near Kithrea.
After verifying this with the priest from St Charalambous, he contacted the singer and told him about the icon’s provenance and he was happy to return it to its original owners without payment.
Bishop Porfyrios said of George: ‘He bought it from an art dealer in 1985, but did not know it came from occupied Cyprus, and it was bought in good faith.
‘After our contact he gave it back to Cyprus with pleasure’
George added: ‘I look forward to seeing the icon on display in Cyprus for the moment and finally to the Church of St Charalambos from where it was illegally stolen.’