News ID: 264501
Published: 0303 GMT January 18, 2020

Dutch art detective finds stolen invaluable copy of Hafez book of poetry, worth €1 million

Dutch art detective finds stolen invaluable copy of Hafez book of poetry, worth €1 million

A stolen 15th-century book by the famed Persian poet Hafez was recovered by a Dutch art detective after years that Iranian authorities had also been on the hunt for it.

According to the reports, the gold-leafed volume worth around $1.1 million, which Iranian authorities are trying to return home, was found to be missing from the collection of an Iranian antiques dealer after his death in Germany in 2007. The manuscript measures 21cm by 13cm and consists of 159 handwritten pages.

Dutch art detective Arthur Brand, considered the "Indiana Jones of the art world”, for tracing a series of lost works, tracked down the opus via the murky stolen arts underworld, wrote.

“This is a hugely important find for me, because this is such an important book,” Brand said as he showed AFP the recovered book at an Amsterdam apartment, according to the report.

The theft of the manuscript, which dates from 1462 to 1463, was discovered by the family of book dealer Djafar Ghazy after his death in Munich in 2007.

While going through Ghazy’s computer, they realized the reclusive pensioner had in fact amassed hundreds of ancient manuscripts — but that they were all gone.

Although part of the collection was recovered by the German police in 2011, "the most important piece, one of the oldest and most faithful copies of Hafez's famous 'Divan', was still missing," Brand said.

German police announced a 50,000-euro reward and issued a flyer describing the book in 2016 but there was still no trace of it, until late 2018.

Iran had already shown an interest in the case, saying it would take “all legal means” to get back the manuscripts that were found in 2011, after Germany gave two back but decided most of the rest were legally owned by the collector, German news reports said.

Meanwhile, Brand said he will travel to Munich next Wednesday to return the Divan to German police.

Experts said this edition could be of great historical and literary value for scholars and admirers of Hafez, one of the best known mystical poets in the world and praised by American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson as the “Prince of Persian poets.”

The recovered book is “one of a handful still in existence,” Dominic Parviz Brookshaw, associate professor of Persian literature at Oxford University, told AFP. “It’s an extremely early edition — although not the earliest — which would make it very rare and valuable."


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