Two stolen “despotic” icons, central pieces of the traditional Greek Orthodox Iconostasis, dating from the 18th century were returned to the General Consulate of Greece in Düsseldorf, Germany on Tuesday. The two icons were to be auctioned off Düsseldorf in April 2020 before being located by the Greek authorities in co-operation with Interpol.
The two icons, depicting Christ “Pantokratoras” and the Virgin Mary “Portaitissa”, were stolen along with other items from the Kimiseos of Theotokos Monastery in the Ioannina prefecture in 2007. Following their theft, photographs of the two icons taken by the local Antiquities Ephorate during cataloguing had been uploaded to Interpol’s database of Stolen Art.
“The Ministry of Culture and Sports has long prioritized containing – in any way possible – antique smuggling, tracing and repatriating cultural goods that have been illegally exported from Greece,” stated minister Lina Mendoni, before congratulating all those involved in the process of repatriating the icons.
The icons were returned by the German auction house to the Greek consul in Düsseldorf, Maria Papakonstantinou, in the presence of the Director of the Ioannina Ephorate of Antiquities, Varvara Papadopoulou.
The two icons will be moved to Greece in the coming days, before they are eventually returned to take their place in the Kimiseos of Theotokos Monastery.