Saturday 30 November 2013

Looted from Zagoria, on Sale in London, Amsterdam, Dusseldorf and Maybe a Shop Near You

Icons for sale (Greek reporter)
Some  icons stolen from Greek monasteries and churches of Epirus were identified recently in a gallery in Düsseldorf that had them for sale and were showing photos of them on their website. The prefect of Epirus, Alexandros Kachrimanis talks about 600 relics taken by looters between 2006 and 2010. This looting had focussed on in the villages of Zagoria. The prefecture has posted the photos of the stolen items on their website which has been effective in identifying items as they surface ("from underground") on the market in dealers' showrooms a number of years after the theft. Since then they have received information about a number of the stolen items on the no-questions-asked art market.
 in 2011, we were informed that galleries in London were selling many religious icons. Specifically, the owner of the gallery in London had 50 to 60 images. The Ministry of Culture, the Greek Embassy in London in collaboration with Scotland Yard did a great job and 18 icons returned to Greece. Then, two more pictures were spotted in galleries in Amsterdam, Holland. There, they sold a total of 19 pictures stolen from the church of Theotokou in Koukouli.” The prefect of Epirus believes that there is a criminal group which is responsible for abduction, transfer and promotion of relics abroad. A voluminous file, formed after years of research by the authorities, on the pillage of monasteries and temples of Epirus, is in the hands of a trial judge.
From the distribution of the finds so far, this criminal group would seem to have had contacts in a specific area of Western Europe. Or rather, dealers in a specific area of Europe have been (are?) buying such items no-questions-asked from criminal groups who are smuggling stolen artefacts.

Sotiria Nikolouli, ' Düsseldorf: Antiquarians Selling Stolen Relics from Greek Monasteries', Greek Reporter November 26, 2013

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