The Netherlands’ Supreme Court ordered Friday that historical treasures from a Dutch museum in Crimea be sent to Ukraine, upholding a lower court ruling that 300 artifacts were part of Ukraine’s cultural heritage.
The collection of archaeological artifacts, some more than 2,000 years old, was on display at the Allard Pearson Museum in Amsterdam after Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, sparking controversy over the repatriation of the loaned pieces. Had been.
Both the Ukrainian government in Kiev and four Crimean museums had lent bronze swords, golden helmets, precious gems and other artifacts to Ellard Pearson, who demanded the return of the items. The Amsterdam Museum instead opted to store the items until a court could decide their fate.
The legal tussle has now ended with the Hague-based Supreme Court ordering the collection to be returned to Ukraine. The judges cited a lack of national recognition for the autonomous republic of Crimea annexed by Russia.
“Although the museum pieces originate from Crimea and therefore may also be considered Crimean heritage, they are part of the cultural heritage of Ukraine,” the ruling reads.
In 2014 mediation between all the museums involved and the Ukrainian authorities failed and the Allard Pearson Museum took the matter to court.
Highlights of the “Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea” exhibit included a solid gold Scythian helmet from the 4th century BC. C. and a gold ornament for the neck from the 2nd century AD. C. Weighing more than one kilogram (two pounds).
In 2016, the Amsterdam District Court cited a 1970 UNESCO convention and ruled that the objects should be returned to the sovereign state that loaned them and that the question of ownership should be decided by a Ukrainian court.
Crimean museums appealed, and Russia threatened to stop loaning objects to Dutch museums if the museum did not return the objects. In 2021, an appeals court again ordered the items to go to Ukraine.
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In a statement, the Allard Pearson Museum says it can now act on the decision and return the items. Legal fees and storage costs have already exceeded 500,000 euros ($538,000), according to documents filed during the process.
It is not clear when the transfer of the items will take place.