Leiden, 19-12-2022 – The Department of Antiquities of Cyprus recently discovered that a Cypriot jug from the 8th century BC was offered for sale on the Dutch art market. The object appeared to have been smuggled out of Cyprus in the seventies. During a ceremonial meeting at the National Museum of Antiquities (NMA) in Leiden the jug was returned by auctioneer Hans Raspe of Auction House Omnia to Cyprus. Mrs. Dr. Marina Solomidou-Ieronymidou, director of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus received the jug. She consequently transferred it to director Wim Weijland of the NMA, as a long term loan to the museum.
The antique jug with among others crimson concentric circles showed up in September when it was put for auction at Auction House Omnia in the Groningen village of Kolham. This was remarked by the Department of Antiquities in Nicosia that sharply monitors Cyprus’ cultural heritage worldwide. The Embassy of Cyprus and the Department of Antiquities got in touch with Omnia. After the intervention of and investigation by experts of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, that has extensive experience with Cypriot antiquities, it appeared that the jug had been bought between April 1974 and July 1975 and was probably smuggled out of the country shortly after the Turkish invasion in Cyprus in July 1974. The provenance of the antique jug could also be traced back to the part of Cyprus which has been illegally occupied by the Turkish army since 1974.
Auctioneer Raspe said in his speech that Auction House Omnia is a supporter of a transparent art market where there is no place for unlawful trading or trading in looted art. “That is why we always cooperate in cases of identified looted art in the mediation to return an object to its rightful owner”, Raspe said. Dr. Solomidou indicated that Cyprus is watching the global art market continuously. Since the Turkish invasion in Cyprus in 1974 many valuable and irreplaceable antique objects , among which many religious works of art, like icons, have been stolen and turned up in the illegal art trade.
The Ambassador of Cyprus, H.E. Mrs. Frances Lanitou Williams said in her speech that the rich cultural heritage of Cyprus encompasses 12,000 years of history. “Over the years we have encountered many Cypriot antiquities on the market being illegally sold at various prices, which is inconceivable to us Cypriots as one cannot put a price on one’s past, on one’s historical and cultural heritage. I’m therefor very happy with the actions taken by the gentlemen Raspe and Weijland”. As Cyprus and the National Museum in Leiden have a longstanding excellent relationship the Cypriot Department of Antiquities decided to give the antique jug as a long term loan to the museum.