Looted Cyprus Mosaics Discovered



Panagia Kanakaria Church, looted after the 1974 Turkish invasion.

Priceless mosaics looted from a church in Cyprus and missing for decades have been found, according to a foundation which campaigns against art theft.

A mosaic of St Mark and fragment of another depicting Christ were originally part of artwork in the sixth-century Church of Panagia Kanakaria, now in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus.

The latest news follows last week’s repatriation to Cyprus of another mosaic fragment depicting the Apostle Andreas, for which a nominal price was paid, given Cypriot state and Orthodox Church policy of not giving money for repatriated stolen artworks.

Overall, the return of the mosaic pieces is the culmination of extensive investigations since the late 1970s, following the Turkish invasion and partition of the island.

The man accused of orchestrating the theft and sale of the church items is said to be Aydin Dikmen, now aged 80, a Turkish art dealer.

Dikmen was arrested in an operation by German police in 1998 as he tried to sell looted Cypriot treasures. The stolen items were kept in a Bavarian museum before being returned to Cyprus.

The Walk of Truth campaign group welcomed the latest pieces’ return but said it was unhappy that even a symbolic amount had been paid for their transfer.