Crimean gold must go back to Ukraine, Dutch appeal court rules

Some of the treasures
Some of the treasures

A valuable collection of gold and other treasures from Crimea should be sent back to Ukraine, appeal court judges in Amsterdam have decided.

Hundreds of works of art from Crimea were loaned to the Allard Pierson museum in Amsterdam in 2014 but while the exhibition was running, Russia annexed parts of the Crimea from Ukraine.

The Dutch museum then decided to hang on to the treasures while the row about where they should be sent back to was sorted out. The items came from five museums in Ukraine, four of which are now under the control of Russia and which took legal action to get the treasures back.

‘Although the museum pieces come from Crimea and to that extent can also be regarded as Crimean heritage, they are part of the cultural heritage of Ukraine as the latter has existed as an independent state since 1991,’ the court said in its ruling.

‘The museum pieces belong to the public part of the Museum Fund of the State of Ukraine.’

In 2016, a lower court also said they must be sent back to Ukraine, saying only sovereign states could claim objects as cultural heritage. Crimea appealed against that decision, and that ruling was not upheld in Tuesday’s court decision.

The Netherlands does not recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The exhibition, entitled The Crimea: Gold and Secrets from the Black Sea, included what the museum said are ‘spectacular archaeological finds’, including gold items, a scabbard and a ceremonial helmet, and countless precious gems.

Both sides can still appeal to the Supreme Court.

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