Stolen 15th-Century Manuscript By Hafez Was Finally Recovered
Wed, April 21, 2021

Stolen 15th-Century Manuscript By Hafez Was Finally Recovered

 

Hafez, a world-renowned 14th-century Persian author, is considered to be one of the most significant poets of Iran. This recognition was partly due to his mastery of the ghazal, a form of Arabic verse centered on love and loss. Since his death in 1390, his tomb has become a popular destination for those familiar with his artistic contributions.

One of Hafez’s most famous works was Divan, a gold-illuminated manuscript dedicated to the Qara Qoyunlu prince Pir Budaq, who was the eldest son of the ruler of Azerbaijan. However, the manuscript had been missing for many years after it got stolen from Islamic art collector Jafar Ghazi’s collection. The book was stolen alongside hundreds of other books in his possession after he died in Germany in 2007. While police were able to recover 175 of them in 2011, the Divan was nowhere to be found. 

 

Credits: All That’s Interesting

 

Fortunately, they got the right man to find the missing manuscript: art detective Arthur Brand. According to All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they see on the news or read in history books, Brand previously located a pair of bronze horses sculpted for Adolf Hitler and retrieved a stolen artwork created by Picasso. 

 

Credits: All That’s Interesting

 

In 2018, Brand went to London to find a man who’d unknowingly purchased the stolen work. “The buyer was shocked and furious. After all, he was sold a stolen book and now everyone was searching for it, including the Iranian government,” he said. The man wanted to get his money back. Fortunately, the detective persuaded him to return the manuscript to German authorities first. 

“If he had succeeded, the Divan would disappear again and probably forever. He had bought a book without knowing that it was stolen but by trying to hand it back to the fence, he would incriminate himself,” Brand said. 

 

Credits: All That’s Interesting

 

As of now, the manuscript is set to be auctioned by Ghazi’s heirs. It has an estimated value of between $93,000 and $140,000. “To find copies of the Divan of great quality…is rare enough, but this is also signed by a famous calligrapher with beautiful quality illumination, and dedicated to a key figure in the Persian and Islamic arts of the book,” Sotheby’s specialist Benedict Carter said. 

 

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