'Indiana Jones of art' finds stolen mosaic

Indiana Jones of art finds stolen mosaic
Arthur Brand poses with the missing mosaic in The Hague.

The Hague - The Cypriot embassy and Church of Cyprus declined to comment when asked about the mosaic.


Published: Sun 18 Nov 2018, 8:33 PM

Last updated: Sun 18 Nov 2018, 10:35 PM

One of the last missing pieces of Byzantine art stolen from Cyprus in the 1970s was handed back this week by a renowned, and proud Dutch art investigator.
Arthur Brand said on Friday he handed back the sixth century depiction of Saint Mark during a private ceremony at the Cypriot embassy in The Hague.
For Brand, dubbed the "Indiana Jones of the art world" because of his exploits to recover stolen works, the handover was a highpoint in his life-long interest in the Byzantine saint - and the result of a nearly two-year chase across Europe.
"This is a very special piece that's more than 1,600 years old. It's one of the last and most beautiful examples of art from the early Byzantine era," said the art sleuth.
In an interview, he showed the mosaic hours before it was handed back. The Cypriot embassy and Church of Cyprus declined to comment when asked about the mosaic.
After getting a tip from a prominent London art dealer, Brand travelled to Monaco in August.
Through a series of intermediaries Brand finally traced the missing mosaic to an apartment in the upscale city-state.
"It was in the possession of a British family, who bought the mosaic in good faith more than four decades ago," Brand said.
"They were horrified when they found out that it was in fact a priceless art treasure, looted from the Kanakaria Church after the Turkish invasion," Brand said.
The family agreed to return it "to the people of Cyprus" in return for a small fee to cover restoration and storage costs, he added.
A week ago, Brand returned to Monaco to collect the treasure, said to be worth five to 10 million euros. "It was one of the greatest moments of my life," the detective said.
In 2015, Brand won world fame after finding two massive bronze statues made by Nazi sculptor Joseph Thorak that are referred to as "Hitler's Horses".
He made headlines again a year later for helping to recover five stolen masterpieces from a criminal group in the Ukraine.
Religious artefacts including mosaics were hewn from the church walls in northern Cyprus following an invasion by Turkish forces in 1974.

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