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Tasoula Hadjitofi: Protecting Cultural Heritage Against the Illicit Trade of Art Trafficking

  • 22 Oct 2015
  • 6:30 PM
  • New York University, 1307 L St. NW, Washington, DC 20005

As the Middle East’s incredibly rich heritage is systematically plundered and sold off to fetch millions, Tasoula Hadjitofi, a refugee and the founder of the organization "Walk of Truth," explores what can be done to prevent and combat this illicit trade. What can we in the west do to protect the history and identity of an entire people from wholesale looting and acts of barbarism? In her work, Hadjitofi urges the world to recognize looting and destruction of cultural heritage as a crime against humanity. She calls for better coordination of laws and law enforcement, and seeks closer cooperation with the art trade. In this talk, Hadjitofi shares the lessons learned from her own experience of tracking and repatriating antiquities looted from Cyprus, explores how cultural heritage can contribute to peace and reconciliation in former conflict zones, and reveals Walk of Truth’s ambitious plans to fight the illegal trade in stolen art by engaging the public.

Tasoula Georgiou Hadjitofi

Born in Cyprus, Hajitofi served as Honorary Consul of Cyprus in her adopted country of The Netherlands, a position she used to seek justice for the looting of Cyprus’s cultural heritage through repatriation of its stolen religious artifacts. Hadjitofi began her work repatriating stolen objects in the early 1980s, and is best known for orchestrating the Munich Case, one of the largest art trafficking sting operations in European history. Her efforts led to the arrest of the Turkish art smuggler Aydin Dikmen and the confiscation of over $60 million  worth of looted artifacts from Cyprus and around the world. Herself a refugee of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Hajitofi is the former representative of the Autocephalous Church of Cyprus for stolen art, and founder of the organization Walk of Truth, which seeks to create reforms to protect cultural heritage in areas of conflict.

This lecture will be followed by a reception.

Iconoclash is an initiative of EUNIC (the European Union National Institutes for Culture), supported by the John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress at New York University's Washington branch, and the EU Delegation to the U.S. in Washington DC.

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