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Stolen Cypriot icon returned by Boy George

More coverage of the Cypriot icon returned by Boy George [1] after he discovered that it had been looted.

Guardian [2]

Boy George returns lost icon to Cyprus church
Singer had no idea the religious artefact hanging above his fireplace was looted from a Cypriot church in 1974
Sean Michaels
Thursday 20 January 2011 12.32 GMT

Boy George has returned a stolen Cypriot artefact that had been missing for almost 40 years. The singer said he was unaware that an icon of Jesus Christ which had hung in his living room for decades was looted from a church in Nicosia. Church officials noticed the portrait during a TV interview with Boy George, where it appeared in the background.

The Culture Club singer bought the artefact “with good faith” from a London art dealer in 1985. “[I] have looked after the icon for 26 years,” he told BBC News. “[I’m] happy it is going back to its original rightful home.”

The image was originally displayed at the Church of St Charalambos, in the Cypriot village of New Chorio-Kythrea. But during the Turkish invasion of 1974, thousands of religious artefacts – including this one – disappeared from the north of the island, allegedly sold on the black market. Cyprus is now partitioned between Turkish-occupied north and the independent republic, which controls the south.

Cypriot bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis said he felt “joy and gratitude” at the singer’s return of the object, which he brought to the St Anagyre church in north London. Boy George “contributed to the efforts of the Church of Cyprus for the repatriation of its stolen spiritual treasures”, the bishop told BBC Radio 4. Although he did not ask the star how much he paid for the icon, Boy George did not ask for any money in return.

“I have always been a friend of Cyprus,” the singer said. “I look forward to seeing the icon on display in … the Church of St Charalambos from where it was stolen.”

Boy George, Bishop Posyrios, Cyprus, icon, Nicosia, Culture Club, Church of St Charalambos, Restitution, Cultural Property, BBC News