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Autocephalous Greek-Orthodox Church of Cyprus v. Goldberg and Feldman Fine Arts, Inc., and Peg Goldberg

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
717 F.Supp. 1374 (1989), 917 F.2d 278, 295-97 (1990)


In 1974, the government of the Republic of Cyprus (Republic) (plaintiff) was replaced by the Greek Cypriot military. In response, Turkey invaded the northern part of Cyprus, thereby dividing the country in two. The town of Lythrankomi is located in northern Cyprus and is subject to Turkish power. Within Lythrankomi is Kanakaria Church, a Greek-Orthodox church notable for its possession of four holy Byzantine mosaics. When Turkey invaded Lythrankomi, the pastor and priests initially remained but were forced to leave two years later. In 1979, the Republic’s Department of Antiquities learned that the mosaics at Kanakaria church had been torn off and stolen. The Republic took great efforts to recover the mosaics. It contacted various international organizations, auction houses, museums, scholars, and collectors. Its strategy was to alert anyone who might be approached to purchase the mosaics. It eventually learned that the mosaics had been purchased by an Indiana art dealer named Peg Goldberg (defendant). Goldberg had purchased the mosaics from Michel van Rijn, a man who identified himself as a Turkish antiquities dealer. Van Rijn claimed to have found the mosaics in rubble and taken them out of the country with the permission of the Turkish Cypriot government. The parties finalized the sale and van Rijn provided Goldberg with forged appraisals and documents. After Goldberg acquired the mosaics, she sought to resell them to Dr. Marion True, a curator. Upon hearing of the mosaics, True contacted the Republic and disclosed their location to the Department of Antiquities. The Republic confirmed that it had been searching for the mosaics and requested that Goldberg return them. When Goldberg refused, the Republic brought suit to recover the mosaics. The trial court awarded possession to the Church of Cyprus.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Bauer, J.)

Concurrence (Cudahy, J.)

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