Wednesday 19 September 2018

Monastery Books: 'A Thief Cannot Pass Ownership to Buyers'

Americans hold items stolen from
 this 1500-year old institution
Three US institutions have priceless manuscripts that have been shown to have been looted a century ago from a Greek Orthodox monastery libary by a group of Bulgarian militants in March 1917. They come from the Kosinitza Monastery in the northern region of Macedonia. It’s time MorganLibrary, Princeton and Duke University returned them to their rightful owners
Before the looting, the library housed 1300 volumes, 430 of which were highly-valuable manuscripts. Many of the volumes dated back more than 1,000 years and were sold across Europe to various book dealers and collectors and never recovered. Attorney George Tsougarakis — a partner with Hughes Hubbard and Reed, a New York City-based firm that is handling the recovery of the manuscripts on a pro bono basis on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople — said that his legal team has contacted each American institution to ask for the manuscripts’ return. “While we’ve had long discussions with each of them, and while they haven’t said no yet, they also haven’t said that they would return the items either,” Tsougarakis told The Pappas Post. He said the monastery has firm legal grounds to support the manuscripts’ return, as a thief cannot pass ownership to other buyers, which would mean that the institutions do not have legitimate claims of ownership.

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