London dealer returns stolen icons
Date: 25 Mar 2011 | | Views: 2125
Richard Temple had bought the works in good faith
LONDON. Six stolen icons handed over by London’s Temple Gallery are to be returned to Greece. Richard Temple, who has dealt in icons for half a century, had bought them in good faith from a European intermediary whom he says he has dealt with over many years.
Following a tip-off from a Greek source who had seen the icons illustrated on the gallery’s website, Metropolitan Police art and antiques officers called on 15 March. After being shown evidence that the icons had been stolen, Temple immediately handed five of them over to Scotland Yard. A sixth is being recovered from a source who had bought it from the gallery.
The icons, dating from the 17th to 19th centuries, were valued at around £10,000. Two had been stolen from the Monastery of the Dormition in Kalota (18-25 September 2005), two from St Apostles in Tsangarada (3-8 December 2009), one from St Nicolas in Tymfi (12-13 April 2009) and one from Saint Tryfonas in Vikos (25 October 2009).
The Greek embassy says thefts were reported to Interpol, but a search of their database suggests that they had not been listed. The icons were not recorded by the Art Loss Register, because the thefts were not reported to them or recorded by Interpol.
The six icons will be returned to the Greek churches via the London embassy. Cultural counsellor Victoria Solomonidis said that dealers should “always ask for a Greek export licence, and unless they get details of the provenance they should not buy.”