Cyprus Mail

Looted artefacts returned

Four frescoes removed from churches in the Turkish occupied north of the island have been returned to the NGO Walk of Truth by a Canadian collector, it was announced on Friday.

According to a statement, Walk of Truth founder and activist Tasoula Hadjitofi approached the collector after she heard they might have information on looted art.

The collector, who wished to remain anonymous, had been following Hadjitofi’s work on repatriating artefacts stolen from churches in northern Cyprus and decided to entrust her with the four frescoes and their repatriation.

Two of the four frescoes have been identified and will be displayed in the House of Lords in London during a presentation on December 16, 2014.  The other two remain unidentified since there is no evidence — photos or any other material — regarding their provenance.

Walk of Truth has already requested the expertise of Byzantinologists who decided that even though the frescoes were of Cypriot origin, there was not enough evidence to identify them.

Following the Turkish invasion in 1974, the cultural heritage of Cyprus has been plundered, churches  violated, icons  stolen, and frescoes and mosaics have been removed from walls and floors.

A large number of these artefacts have been repatriated but many others are still missing.

The lack of an archive for the cultural heritage in the occupied areas makes the identification process and the process of claiming stolen artefacts often found in private collections , auctions and art trade abroad, a difficult task, the NGO said.

Walk of Truth (WoT) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization, based in The Hague, The Netherlands.

It was established by Hadjitofi in an effort to raise awareness among people of different ethnic, religious and national identities about the value of cultural heritage in all its forms.


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