In 1985, Boy George, the former Culture Club singer, bought an icon from an art dealer in London. At the time it did not matter where the icon came from and how it got to England. In January 2011, he agreed to return the icon to the Church of St. Charalambos (New Chorio-Kythrea, Cyprus) from where it was stolen more than 25 years earlier. Following Turkey’s invasion of northern Cyprus hundreds of cultural valuables were illegally exported to entice foreign collectors.
BBC quoted the artist as saying that he was “happy the icon is going back to its original rightful home…. I look forward to seeing the icon on display in Cyprus for the moment and finally to the Church of St Charalambos from where it was illegally stolen.”
BBC also reported that Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis, upon receiving the icon, expressed “joy and gratitude.” According to the Bishop, this gesture had “contributed to the efforts of the Church of Cyprus for the repatriation of its stolen spiritual treasures”.
For a fascinating autobiographical account of a Dutch art dealer who frequented Cyprus and trafficked in looted artifacts, read Michel van Rijn’s Hot Art, Cold Cash.