The Quest for Justice: Recovering Greece's Stolen Manuscripts in New York City

The Rediscovery and Repatriation of Stolen Greek Manuscripts

In 2008, three Greek-language manuscripts from the 16th and 17th centuries were sold by Swann Auction Galleries in Manhattan to an antiquities dealer who returned them two years later due to suspicion that they may have been stolen.

Although the dealer was reimbursed, the auction house could not contact the original seller and the manuscripts were forgotten for over a decade. However, three months ago, the manuscripts were rediscovered by Swann's CFO during an office renovation.

It is believed that the manuscripts were looted from a Greek monastery during World War I, when Bulgarian combatants allegedly took almost 900 items from the Theotokos Eikosiphoinissa Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery, also known as Kosinitza.

The manuscripts will be returned to the monastery, with a repatriation ceremony in Lower Manhattan arranged by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to commemorate their return. After the ceremony, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America will deliver the manuscripts to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, who will then send them back to Kosinitza.

“It is a blessing for the monastic sisterhood at the monastery of Theotokos Eikosiphoinissa to see the contents of their former library slowly being returned to them,” Archbishop Elpidophoros said in a statement. He said the church hoped other organizations with manuscripts stolen from the monastery would also return them.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024