Stolen ancient Cypriot jug returned

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A looted Cypriot jug from the 8th century BC offered for sale on the Dutch art market was recently returned to the Republic of Cyprus.

After being handed over to the director of the Cyprus Department of Antiquities, it was loaned to the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden.

The jug was returned by auctioneer Hans Raspe of Auction House Omnia to Dr Marina Solomidou-Ieronymidou, director of the Department of Antiquities.

She consequently transferred it to director Wim Weijland of the NMA for a long-term loan to the museum.

The Department of Antiquities recently discovered that a Cypriot jug from the 8th century BC was offered for sale on the Dutch art market when put for auction in September at Auction House Omnia in the Groningen village of Kolham.

“The object appeared to have been smuggled out of Cyprus in the seventies”.

An investigation by experts of the NMA in Leiden, “that has extensive experience with Cypriot antiquities”, believed the jug was bought between April 1974 and July 1975 and was probably smuggled out of the country shortly after the Turkish invasion in July 1974.

The provenance of the antique jug could also be traced back to the north of Cyprus, which the Turkish army has illegally occupied since 1974.

Auctioneer Raspe said at the Auction House that Omnia is a supporter of a transparent art market where there is no place for unlawful trading or looted art.

“That is why we always cooperate in cases of identified looted art in the mediation to return an object to its rightful owner”, Raspe said.

Solomidou said Cyprus is watching the global art market continuously.

“Since the Turkish invasion, many valuable and irreplaceable antique objects, among which many religious works of art, like icons, have been stolen and turned up in the illegal art trade.”

Ambassador Frances Lanitou Williams said the rich cultural heritage of Cyprus encompasses 12,000 years of history.

“Over the years, we have encountered many Cypriot antiquities on the market being illegally sold at different prices, which is inconceivable to us Cypriots as one cannot put a price on one’s past, on one’s historical and cultural heritage.”