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A detective recovered to Cyprus a mosaic of the sixth century looted after the Turkish invasion of 1974

A byzantine mosaic of the sixth century, disappeared from a church in northern Cyprus during the Turkish invasion of 1974, has been found to be in Monaco, at the home of a collector of british that I was unaware of its origin. The piece shows the face of San Marcos and is one of the few works of christian art, early, that survived the iconoclastic period of Byzantium, between 726 and 843. What has been recovered in the Dutch Arthur Brand, well-known detective specializing in stolen art, after three years of searching. Once delivered to the embassy of cyprus in the Netherlands, the work has come out this Sunday way of a museum in the south of the country that brings together treasures similar.

The mosaic of Saint Mark, who shows him with beard and nimbus, decorated the apse of the church of Panaya Kanakaria, located to the north of the island of Cyprus, around 10 kilometres from Nicosia, the capital. Historians estimate that it was executed to the sixth century, and was part of a set of twelve. In 1976, the temple was plundered by the thieves, but the Department of Antiquities of the Republic of Cyprus did not know officially until 1979. “It has been a labor of searching for three years, and I have received help from the british William Veres, an art dealer who now has problems with the justice [for the alleged trafficking of stolen art]. But in my case, without it, would not have been able to find the mosaic”, says Arthur Brand, in telephone conversation.

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These works are part of the cultural heritage in cyprus and the rescuer Dutch has enjoyed the support of the Church in the country, and the Government of Nicosia. Once you have located the San Marcos in the south of Europe, Brand, also dubbed the Indiana Jones of the art, by his adventures, he came up to the owners. “It is a british family resident in Monaco that he had inherited from his father, who bought it in the seventies, without knowing that it Restbet was coming from a theft.” After a long conversation, they agreed to return to Cyprus, “in exchange for a token sum for having preserved and restored over the years”, he adds. Then admits with a laugh that tends to happen “a few days alone with the works that I recover”. “It's a way of enjoy the effort and then leave it in the hands of the rightful owners, of course.”

Brand takes decades engaged in the recovery of stolen art and is a good knower of a world that includes counterfeiters, and thugs. “The first take advantage of the theft to copy works and then sell them to the mafia. These last can buy them at times, without knowing that it is a hoax, but also acquire authentic art. Is a form of currency in their circles and also a safe-conduct if they are arrested by the police. Your return can contribute to reduce a penalty”. In 2016, the Brand found the box Adolescence, Dali, and also The Music, of Tamara de Lempicka. Both fabrics had been removed in 2009 to armed robbery of Museum Scheringa Realism, located to the north of Amsterdam. It took six years of negotiation “on the suitable environments, but I never commit crimes, don't pay or do exchanges”.

In 2015, it resolved also the enigma of the Horses of Hitler, a group of sculptures that decorated the Chancellery in Berlin lost after the fall of the berlin wall, in 1989. Once located, when a German family that tried to sell his brokerage, he gave notice to the police and there were eight detainees. Without a physical headquarters for his company, and travelling without stopping, Brand recognizes that the story of the mosaic of San Marcos is not just one more of your long search of stolen art. “I've learned that this work is part of the soul of Cyprus”.

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