Turkish Smuggler Wants Cypriot Treasures

Byzantine_Mosaic_Beiteddine_KTICIC-620x400According to a report by the German newspaper Abendzeitung, Aydin Dikmen, a Turkish smuggler of artworks, is going to the courts asking for Cypriot treasures to be declared a “dowry” of his wife and is demanding  compensation from the Church of Cyprus if he’s forced to return them.

Dikmen is a Turkish art dealer who was arrested in 1998 for trying to sell Eastern Orthodox art looted from Cyprus during the 1974 Turkish invasion, during which a number of churches and monasteries were looted. Greek Cypriot authorities suspect Dikmen had led the looting and had sold some of the stolen items.

Tasoula Hatzitofi, founder of the non-profit organization Walk of Truth,  motivated by the article, noted that, “If this is true, then all commissioners during all these years have to do something for the antiquities to be repatriated.”

The stolen church treasures of Cyprus were found 15 years ago in Dikmen’s apartment after investigations by Bavarian police and a representative of the Church of Cyprus for the Cultural Heritage and Consul of the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Hague.

Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Kyrenia has expressed his concern over the matter. According to an announcement from Walk of Truth the Cypriot representative asked Cypriot officials to make a judicial report outlining how the church treasures of Kyrenia can be repatriated.



  1. In the absence of clear and undisputable documented provenance, the antiques should be considered as stolen or looted, and should have been registered with an International register of stolen art. I cannot understand why the Walk of Truth had been beating the bush all these years, instead of approaching any Munich museum or an auction house – I would have advised Hermann Historica oHG – which would have brought them in touch with an experienced lawyer in Germany (a “pro bono” service might be available) AND international experts. The international co-operation in this area is working efficiently in many ways – since the antiques illegally looted from Turkey by grave robbers were confiscated and returned to Turkey, the treasures looted from the Church should be returned too


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