On 8 April 1820, farmer Geórgios Kentrotás was ploughing a field when he discovered a cave containing half of a statue of the goddess Aphrodite. A French officer, Olivier Voutier, who happened to be visiting Mílos and walking past, urged the farmer to look for the other half. He soon found it, along with a 6th-century BC statue of young Hermes and Hercules as an old man – an ancient art-lover’s secret cache, hidden from the Christians.
Voutier sketched the Aphrodite for Louis Brest, the French vice-consul for Mílos. Brest sent this on to the French consul in Constantinople, who decided to obtain Aphrodite for France, and sent an envoy over to complete the deal.
But meanwhile Kentrotás, persuaded by the island’s elders, had sold the statue to another man on behalf of the translator of the Turkish fleet, the Prince of Moldavia, Nichólas Mouroúzis. The statue was in a caique, ready to be placed aboard a ship for Romania, when the French ship sailed into Adámas.
Images by Un lugar en el paraiso