"While studying art history at the Sorbonne in Paris, a professor suggested to @gregorybuchakjian that he try to find some undiscovered art in Lebanon for his masters thesis. The year was 1993 and perhaps there was a valuable painting somewhere that had gone undetected during the Lebanese civil war which had ended just three years earlier. Gregory first explored some churches before paying a visit to the Sursock Palace in the Lebanese capital of Beirut. The owner, Lady Cochrane, agreed to give him a tour of the palace art. Her father had had a particular taste for 17th century Italian paintings, many bought from Naples where Lady Cochrane’s mother was from. “It’s not like visiting a museum” says Gregory in his office at the university where he now teaches in Beirut. “There aren’t proper labels on the paintings and the inscriptions on the frame aren’t always accurate.” As Gregory walked around the many rooms of the palace, two paintings caught his eye: a large canvas depicting the Greek hero Hercules with Queen Omphale and a smaller portrait of Mary Magdalene. Gregory was sure they were the work of an Italian master but at the same time he knew he wasn’t the first art historian to have explored the Sursock Palace looking for a treasure."