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Anthony Quinn’s “Zorba The Greek” widow claims Greek property March 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.

The widow of Anthony Quinn is claiming more than two acres of seaside property on the island of Rhodes that were bought by the late actor nearly half a century ago but whose ownership is contested by the Greek authorities.

Katherine Quinn has arrived in Rhodes to seek resolution of a long-standing legal wrangle with the island council, which asserts that the disputed land should never have been sold to a foreigner.

Anthony Quinn bought nearly 30 acres (12 hectares) of choice seaside land at Ladiko, a few miles south of the main town, after a holiday on Rhodes in 1960. He developed two acres, but never got round to building on the rest of the land. The transaction took place four years before the Oscar-winning actor became closely linked with the country by taking the title role in the film Zorba the Greek, which was filmed on Crete.

“The transaction was endorsed by former Queen Frederica, the consort of former King Paul, and by the Prime Minister of the time,” said Stephanos Stratis, a lawyer for Mrs Quinn, who is avoiding the media.

The actor paid the equivalent of about £1,500 for land that is now valued at almost £1 million. Yet for the next 40 years parliaments shied away from ratifying the deal as it ran counter to a law banning foreigners from owning land in security-sensitive border areas, such as Rhodes, which lies only a few miles off the Turkish coast.

To change the law in favour of someone like Quinn would have required a special Act of Parliament, and possibly would have caused public opinion to turn against the Government. Quinn’s plan to turn the property into an artists’ colony and film-industry convention centre was soon forgotten.

In 1984 a Rhodes court nullified the 1960 purchase, triggering a counter suit from Quinn, who demanded the return of some £300,000 spent on landscaping and building. The actor died in June 2001 without seeing the money. Little of all this was known until 1997 when Mrs Quinn, who was the actor’s third wife, reopened the issue with the Rhodes courts. Her contact that year with the local authorities ended in deadlock.

Greek media reports this week claimed that the Rhodes Municipality was encouraging squatters to settle on the disputed land. This was allegedly designed to bolster its claim that, without an Act of Parliament to prove otherwise, Quinn’s Greek island paradise was never any such thing.

  • Anthony Quinn was not Greek, but Mexican. Before acting he worked variously as a butcher, boxer, street-corner preacher and slaughterhouse worker
  • Quinn broke his foot while filming Zorba the Greek, preventing him from performing the energetic dance scripted. Instead, he created a slow shuffle and falsely claimed it to be a traditional dance
  • The film won three Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actress for Lila Kedrova, Best Art Direction for Vassilis Photopoulos and Best Cinematography for Walter Lassally
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