One woman’s pursuit of justice leads her on a riveting adventure into the world of art trafficking.
In this powerful memoir, Tasoula Hadjitofi reveals her perilous journey orchestrating “The Munich Case”—one of the largest European art trafficking stings since WWII. With the Bavarian police in place, the Cypriots on their way, seventy under-cover agents bust into the Munich apartment of a notorious Turkish smuggler suspected of holding looted antiquities. Tasoula places everything on the line to repatriate her country’s sacred treasures, unaware that treachery lies in the shadow of her success.
The Icon Hunter is a story torn from the pages of Tasoula's life as she and her Greek Cypriot family lose everything during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. Hundreds of ancient Cypriot churches are destroyed, their contents looted and all signs of her Greek Cypriot culture erased as if it never existed. As a refugee, she wants justice. And then fate intervenes in the form of an archbishop and a dubious art dealer in search of redemption.
Even as unspeakable personal tragedy strikes, she never gives up her search knowing the special place these antiquities hold in the hearts of Orthodox Christians. These icons are not just masterpieces—they are artistic manifestations of faith and a gate-way to the divine.
Using family and faith as her touchstones, Tasoula takes on these “merchants of God” as she navigates the underworld of art trafficking. Tasoula believes this to be her calling, and the Archbishop of Cyprus entrusts her—an ordinary woman, wife, and mother—with the mission. In order to succeed, however, she must place her trust in an art dealer known for his double-dealing.
Inspiring and empowering, The Icon Hunter is a gripping story by a remarkable woman that will captivate readers long after the nal page.
In this gripping memoir, Hadjitofi, former Honorary Consul of Cyprus in the Netherlands and founder of the NGO Walk of Truth, chronicles the Munich sting operation that uncovered and repatriated stolen artifacts and icons looted from Cypriot churches during the Turkish occupation of Cyprus in 1974. The sting that led to the "Munich Case" lasted more than two decades. Hadjitofi recounts her quest to locate scattered Byzantine masterpieces that are worth millions; she went all over the world, from a university in Japan to the Munich doorstep of a corrupt art trader. She partnered with Dutch art trader Michel Van Rijn, a corrupt and unreliable informant, who introduced danger along the journey. Hadjitofi felt driven to return the artifacts to the Orthodox Christian churches that represent both her religion and her home. As a former refugee, she reveals the despair and irreparable loss of losing not only a nation but also its cultural heritage. She exposes the "underworld of art traffickers" with intricate detail as she documents all the legal loopholes and battles that stand in the way of repatriating stolen artifacts. The book is a powerful and important chronicle of art trafficking and its impact on the lives of those torn apart by war, and Hadjitofi is a caring and exacting storyteller.