More than 2.5 tons of jewelry and products made from Scythian gold were brought on Monday, November 27, from Amsterdam to Kyiv. After nine years of disputes over the ownership of the jewelry and Crimea’s attempts to reclaim its heritage, a truck with valuable cargo entered the territory of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra taken away from the UOC. Ukrainian customs officers reported that they will soon begin identifying and registering cultural property in the Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine, located on the territory of the Lavra. Details are in the Izvestia article.
Scythian gold: where is it now, how much is it worth?
A truck with Scythian gold arrived in Ukraine from Amsterdam on Monday, November 27. In total, 2,694 kg of cultural property belonging to Crimean museums were transferred to Kyiv. The treasures were placed in the premises of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, here Ukrainian customs officers will identify and register the valuables in the Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine, located on the territory of the Lavra.
We are talking about a collection of 2 thousand gold objects found in Scythian burial mounds in Crimea and sent for exhibition at the Allard Pearson Museum in the Netherlands in 2014. The insurance value of the Scythian collection is estimated at €1.5 million – this amount appeared in the document issued by the Pearson Museum.
Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov, commenting on reports of the arrival of Scythian gold in Ukraine, said that it should be in Crimea. “It belongs to Crimea. It must be there,” Peskov emphasized.
Photo: TASS/Artem Geodakyan
The press service of the Allard Pearson Museum first told Izvestia that they “do not have information about any agreement with the Ukrainian authorities or about the return of exhibits,” but then confirmed that the Scythian gold was transferred to Ukraine.
The exhibits were inspected and carefully packaged for shipment last month, according to a museum press release. As museum director Els van der Plas explained, “this was a special case where cultural heritage became a victim of geopolitical events,” and the museum “focused on storing the treasures” until the court’s decision.
As Alexey Vyazovsky, vice-president of the Zolotaya Plata company, explained to Izvestia, a country that accepts foreign historical values gives a letter of guarantee to the country that provided the collection. Apparently, they made the decision to return the valuables to Ukraine in line with this logic. Vyazovsky emphasized that he does not consider the current situation to be final.
According to the expert, although a significant part of the collection was lost, this is not all the Scythian gold in Russian museums. In addition, new Scythian artifacts continue to be found in the south of the country, including on Mamay Mountain. “We will still see new discoveries by archaeologists,” Vyazovsky emphasized.
Vice-President of the Golden Board about Scythian gold
Crimean Scythian gold: who owns it
The trial over the ownership of Scythian gold lasted more than nine years. It all started in February 2014, when four Crimean museums – the Kerch Historical and Cultural Reserve (now the East Crimean Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve), the Central Museum of Taurida, the Bakhchisaray Historical and Cultural Reserve (now the Bakhchisaray Historical, Cultural and Archaeological Museum-Reserve ) and the National Reserve “Tavrichesky Chersonesus” (now the State Historical and Archaeological Museum-Reserve “Tavrichesky Chersonesus”) – sent their exhibits to the Netherlands.
Scythian gold was presented at the exhibition “Crimea – Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea” at the Allada Pearson Museum. After the referendum and the reunification of Crimea with Russia in March 2014, the Netherlands was faced with the question of who should return the collection to. The Ukrainian authorities laid claim to the treasures and demanded that they be returned after the end of the exhibition not to Crimea, but to Kyiv, but Russia has repeatedly challenged this decision: in 2017 and in 2022.
In 2016, the District Court of Amsterdam, and then in 2021, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal decided to transfer Scythian gold to Ukraine; The cassation appeal of the Crimean museums to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in 2022 did not change the decision of the country’s authorities. The Dutch court explained its verdict by saying that Crimea is not a country and, therefore, cannot claim its right to objects of art.
As the legendary director of the Pushkin Museum, Irina Antonova, explained, the exported exhibits were decorated incorrectly. “According to these documents, if valuables can be returned, then only to Ukraine, and Ukraine considers this museum its own. The Dutch, according to documents, took exhibits from the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine. It was necessary to register it for the Crimean Museum, but, obviously, they could not do this“, Irina Antonova told Izvestia.
Transfer of Scythian gold to Ukraine: reaction
The Russian Ministry of Culture stated that the court’s decision violates international law and the principles of inter-museum exchange.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called the court decision in the Netherlands to transfer part of the Crimean heritage to Kyiv biased, and the head of Crimea, Sergei Aksenov, emphasized that the collection was simply taken away from Crimean museums. According to Aksenov, after the transfer of valuables to Kyiv, the Scythian gold will be stolen and resold to private collections.
“It was clear that they wouldn’t return it to us, without any options, because both the West and Kyiv don’t care about the law, about legal norms. It’s time to stop regretting this matter, throwing ashes on your head, and so on. It is obvious that they will react only to force, only to decisive actions, and those that are proactive,” Aksenov wrote on November 27 in his Telegram channel.