Icon Smuggling Ring Uncovered

May 9, 2011  []

Scotland Yard has identified the alleged mastermind behind a ring that has been stealing religious icons from churches and monasteries in Epirus and Thessaly which subsequently ended up at European auction houses.

According to the Greek authorities, police in Athens were informed of the identity of the mastermind, who is from Thessaly, by their British counterparts. The person has yet to be taken into custody, however, as his or her whereabouts are currently unknown.

The information that led to the ring leader’s identification was provided by a London gallery following the online identification of six Byzantine icons that the gallery was planning to sell. The icons were recently returned to the monasteries they belong to in the area of Ioannina, northern Greece. It is believed that the alleged ring leader had claimed the icons were family heirlooms from his father’s personal collection.

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