The Icon Hunter: A Refugee’s Quest to Reclaim Her Nation’s Stolen Heritage
One woman’s pursuit of justice leads her on a riveting adventure into the world of art trafficking.
Tasoula Hadjitofi was only a child when her homeland, Cyprus, was invaded. As bombs fell and soldiers marched through the streets, her mother stood guard, reminding her children not to be afraid of the bombs or anything else that may follow. They would always have their family and their faith. Soon thereafter, Tasoula found herself homeless and nation-less. A refugee.
Decades later, she’s a successful entrepreneur and the Honorary Consul of Cyprus in The Netherlands. But family and faith have remained her touchstones, and she’s never lost her longing for “home” or for the gorgeous Cypriot churches and their icons. One day, a dubious art dealer offers her a chance to buy stolen sacred artifacts looted from Cyprus during the war. Icons hold a special place in the hearts of Orthodox Christians. They are not just masterpieces, they are artistic manifestations of faith and a gateway to the divine.
Outraged, Tasoula sets out on a quest to repatriate these artifacts. An immensely legally challenging and expensive undertaking, as provenance of icons are and other holy artifacts are easily manipulated by corrupt dealers and greedy auction houses. Taking on these “merchants of God” will test Tasoula’s fortitude and threaten her safety, yet she feels this mission is her calling. In this book, she reveals her perilous road to “The Munich Case”, the largest art trafficking sting in European history since WWII, which is filled with mind games, subterfuge, global politics, and as shady figure named Van Rijn, whose motives are never entirely clear…
By turns heart-pounding and inspiring, The Icon Hunter is a powerful and gripping story that will resonate long after the final page.
8 pages of photographs
Published by Pegasus Books on April 11, 2017
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Tasoula Hadjitofi’s proceeds from book sales will benefit Walk of Truth.