November 25, 2008

Britain returns stolen Greek icon

Posted at 2:01 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

A religious icon stolen 30 years ago from a Greek monastery has been returned following a British court ruling earlier this year. I’m mused to see the use of the word Elginism at the end of the article.

World Bulletin

Britain returns stolen Byzantine icon to Greece
The painting of Christ being taken down from the Cross was snatched from a monastery in the city of Serres in 1978 and discovered in 2002.
Wednesday, 19 November 2008 16:15

Britain returned a 14th century Byzantine icon to Greek authorities on Wednesday, 30 years after it was stolen from a monastery in northern Greece, the Culture Ministry said.

The painting of Christ being taken down from the Cross was snatched from a monastery in the city of Serres in 1978 and discovered in 2002 in the hands of a Greek collector in London.

A British court ruled this year the valuable painting should be returned to Greece, dismissing an appeal from its owner.

“Days like these are days of joy for all the people struggling to rescue our cultural inheritance,” Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said. “The icon stolen from the St John the Baptist monastery will be returned to the place it was seized.”

Greece’s conservative government has launched a campaign to recover ancient artefacts and religious art smuggled out of the country and acquired by foreign museums and private collectors.

Top of this list are the Parthenon Marbles, part of the frieze which once adorned the 5th century BC temple of Athena on the Acropolis in central Athens.

The sculptures were taken to Britain in the early 19th century by Thomas Bruce, seventh earl of Elgin and British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, which then ruled Greece.

Liapis said the Byzantine icon would need restoration as it was painted over before it was smuggled out of Greece. The government would also ensure security at the monastery was tight enough to prevent a recurrence of the theft.

“The Culture Ministry does not encourage domestic ‘Elginism’,” he said. The icon will be displayed for two weeks at the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens.


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