Crimean art treasures must be returned to Ukraine, Dutch court rules
The Crimean art treasures that the Amsterdam Allard Pierson Museum has been forced to keep under its care for more than seven years must be returned to Ukraine. The Amsterdam Court of Appeals made this ruling - just like the court in 2016 - in a long ongoing procedure about the destination of the archaeological masterpieces.
In 2014, the museum in the Dutch capital loaned hundreds of objects, including some gold, from cultural institutions in Crimea for the exhibition The Crimea - Gold and Secrets from the Black Sea. During the exhibition, Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula. The question arose to whom the treasures had to be returned afterward: to Ukraine - to which Crimea no longer belongs - or the lending museums now under Russian administration. Both Ukraine and the Crimean museums consider the treasures their cultural heritage.
The Allard Pierson Museum asked the court to pass judgment on this. The court ruled in December 2016 that the museum had to return the collection to Ukraine, but the Crimean museums appealed. Russia then threatened to end cooperation with Dutch museums if the Appeals Court also ruled in Kiev's favor.
The Court of Appeals based its decision on grounds other than the court, which relied on the Heritage Act. According to the Court of Appeals, Ukraine cannot claim the objects on that basis, but the country can invoke the protection of the Museum Act. This means that the works of art will be transferred to the National History Museum of Ukraine in Kiev pending stabilization of the situation in Crimea. This is a temporary measure to protect the cultural heritage.
The objects from one of the four museums in question are the property of Ukraine. Ownership of the treasures from the other three museums' collections has not been established. Just like the previous court, the Court of Appeals did not rule on this.
The parties involved can still appeal to the Supreme Court.
Reporting by ANP