A private collector agrees to repatriate his collection to Cyprus in an important accord with church representatives and Walk of Truth.
David JD Johnson, the Metropolitan of Kykkos and Tillirias, Nikiforos, and Tasoula Hadjitofi of Walk of Truth signed an agreement under which Mr. Johnson will transfer 150 antiquities, most dating from the Bronze Age, to the Holy Monastery of Kykkos. Under the agreement, the objects will be repatriated in stages to allow the monastery time to create appropriate exhibition space in its museum, ensuring the artefacts are available to researchers and on public view.
Mr. Johnson asked Ms. Hadjitofi for her assistance in finding a location for his collection in 2018. For him, the antiquities he has acquired over a period of several years as a private collector “are not aesthetic objects but containers of the past, of history, so I cannot conceive of owning them without wanting to study the archaeology behind them.” He had, he said, “started to think about what would happen to my collection when I died. I didn’t want it to just go back and feed the antiquities market again. I wanted if possible to preserve it and make it available for study and for the public to see. I hope that it will inspire other collectors to do the same.”
As the founder of Walk of Truth, Ms. Hadjitofi campaigns against the looting and smuggling of cultural heritage and has repatriated many stolen artefacts to Cyprus, her homeland. “The repatriation of the antiquities symbolizes the yearning of each refugee worldwide to return back home and this is the main motive of my work, as a refugee from Famagusta,” she said. “David’s voice was as strong as mine in supporting repatriation and wanting to stop the illegal trade of antiquities. I sensed I had an ally there.”
“It is with great joy that we sign today this agreement, which I believe will set a landmark in the history of Cyprus,” said the Most Reverend Nikiforos, Metropolitan of Kykkos and Tylleria. “I sincerely hope that this agreement we shall sign today will inspire others to emulate Mr. David Johnson.”
Present at the signing ceremony were the Metochi of Kykkos in Nicosia, the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Cyprus, Nathalie Jaarsma, Ms. Hadjitofi, Mr. Johnson and his wife Catherine Mary Prophrey Johnson.
Under the terms of the agreement, Walk of Truth retains custody of the collection and is charged with overseeing the execution of Mr. Johnson’s wishes in case of his death. The agreement also requires the collection to be made available to the public, to remain intact, and to be made available for research.
A majority of the artefacts in the Johnson collection date from the Bronze Age. They include ceramic pots, jugs, flasks, figurines and votive figures, oil lamps, bowls, tankards, chalices, lamps, tools, weapons and coins. Many of the bowls, jugs and tankards are decorated with paint; some are shaped like animals.