Crimean Gold Dispute Culminates in Lawsuit

The Scythian Gold Pectoral from Tovsta Mohyla Photo:

The dispute over a 565-piece collection of Crimean gold, lent to a Dutch museum by four Crimean institutions, has culminated in a legal challenge, Art Daily reported (see “Portion of Disputed Gold Collection Returned to Kiev”).

The exhibition The Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea went on view at Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum in February when Crimea was still part of the Ukraine. After Russia annexed Crimea in March, the Crimean museums and the Ukrainian government both claimed ownership of the gold. In response, the Allard Pierson Museum announced in a statement that it would keep the artifacts in the Netherlands. The situation is complicated by the fact that the Dutch government does not recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea. However, the museum agreed to “abide by a ruling by a qualified judge or arbitrator, or further agreement between the parties.”

Andrei Malgin, director of the Tavrida museum in Simferopol, one of the four affected museums in Crimea, told Art Daily: “On November 19, four Crimean museums filed a complaint before an Amsterdam court demanding that the Allard Pierson return their collection.” He added that “the objects on display must be returned to where they were discovered and where they were preserved … and that is the museums of Crimea.”

In a joint statement the Crimean institutions lamented the fact that they had become “hostages of the political situation” insisting that “the museums of Crimea are the legal owners of the objects.”

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