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Louvre denies Turkish tiles 'stolen' from historic mosque

Paris's world famous Louvre museum denied accusations on Friday that it was exhibiting tiles stolen from Turkey hundreds of years ago, following claims made in a Turkish daily that the tiles were pilfered from a historic mosque.

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The Louvre museum in Paris on Friday said there had been no official demand from Ankara to return tiles that a Turkish daily claims were stolen from a historic mosque, adding they had been acquired legally.

The tiles are part of a 12-metre- (40-foot-) long mosaic put together by the museum and one of the highlights of a new wing of Islamic art which was launched at the end of October.

Turkey's Radikal newspaper said they were "stolen" from the Piyale Pasha mosque designed by Ottoman imperial architect Mimar Sinan for the vizier and grand admiral Piyale Mehmed Pasha and built between 1565 and 1573.

Its interior walls were originally decorated with tiles but are now whitewashed.

Louvre authorities on Friday told AFP they had not "received any formal demand from Turkish authorities," to return the tiles and said the pieces used in the mosaic were either donated and bought between 1871 and 1940 "In conditions that were perfectly legal and in line with the rules of the time."

According to Radikal newspaper, Turkey's Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay has started moves to get the tiles back.

Louvre's new wing of Islamic art showcases about 3,000 precious works dating from the seventh to the 19th centuries.

(AFP)

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