'Indiana Jones of art' recovers 6th-century mosaic 40 years after it was looted from Cyprus church
A 1,600-year-old mosaic stolen from a church in Cyprus has been returned to its homeland more than 40 years after it was looted.
Arthur Brand, who stars in the Dutch documentary series The Art Detective, recovered the 6th-century artefact from the apartment of a wealthy family in Monaco.
The mosaic, depicting a young St Mark, was looted from the church of Panaya Kanakaria during the Turkish invasion in 1974.
It's believed the mosaic was one of several created as early as 550AD, having survived the partial destruction of the church during a raid in the 700s.
According to Mr Brand's website, the mosaics were considered some of the most important surviving pieces of early Christian artwork.
Mr Brand said the search for the mosaic, which stretched for three years, was one he "will never forget".
"After everything went wrong — informants were arrested in unrelated cases, people got scared and disappeared — it finally came to a meeting between the current owner of the mosaic and myself," Mr Brand said.
The owner had inherited the piece from their father, who bought the mosaic in the 1970s without knowing it had been stolen.
After hearing the piece had been looted, the current owner agreed to return it to Cyprus.
The owner, who wished to remain anonymous, was offered a small compensation fee as a symbolic gesture for taking care of the mosaic for four decades.
Cyprus' Minister of Transport, Communications and Works, Vassiliki Anastassiadou, said the artefact arrived in the country on Sunday.
Mr Brand handed over the work to church and government officials at Cyprus' embassy in the Netherlands.
The documentary star has been dubbed "the Indiana Jones of art", having built a career out of recovering important pieces.
He was lauded for discovering two large bronze sculptures known as "Hitler's horses" in 2015.
Mr Brand is still searching for a lost portion of a mosaic from the same church which depicts Jesus and Mary.
Photo: Mr Brand is still searching for the Feet of Christ. (Max Vandaag)
The small section is known as the Feet of Christ.
It's believed the piece may have once hung in a restaurant in The Hague, while there are also rumours it could be located in Spain.
Mr Brand is seeking tips that might lead to the recovery of the artefact, putting out the call for information on Max Vandaag, the Dutch TV station that broadcasts his documentary series.
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