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Diplomatic Row Over Gold: Russia Wants Crimean Gold Back From The Netherlands

Kitco News

Image Courtesy of Flickr User Giorgio Monteforti

(Kitco News) - Russia and the Netherlands are in a row over ancient Scythian gold treasure after a Dutch museum chose not to return gold artifacts back to Crimea.

The Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam did not return the collection of 2,111 pieces of ancient gold artifacts following a Dutch court ruling, which said that the rightful owner of the ancient treasure was Ukraine, citing Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The exhibition, titled ‘Crimea - Gold and Mysteries of the Black Sea’, was on loan in Amsterdam from four Crimean museums.

The gold collection in question dates back to the Scythian era in the fourth century B.C., which is known for its nomadic horse warriors who ruled the Eurasian steppe.

Russia warned that it will cut off all museum exchanges with the Netherlands if it returns the artifacts to Ukraine instead of Crimean museums.

In the latest set of comments from officials, Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said that the Dutch court decision sets the “most dangerous precedent” and compared it to “Nazi aggression.”

“If this ruling comes into force, I would have no right to sanction any exhibitions in the territory of the country that creates the most dangerous precedent regarding the confiscation of cultural treasures,” Medinsky told RIA Novosti.

“We are talking about an unprecedented alienation of museum values. This can only be compared to lootings dating back to Napoleon’s Italian campaigns, or to those during the times of Nazi aggression. I think that the Dutch court ruling was absolutely politicized. It destroys the very system of exhibition exchange,” he added.

The exhibition first arrived to Amsterdam in February 2014. Almost three years later, in December 2016, a Dutch court ruled that the artifacts should be returned to Ukraine and not the Crimean museums that loaned the artifacts.

After the ruling, Crimean museums filed an appeal and new proceedings were expected to begin this fall.

Some of the main highlights from the invaluable collection are: a fourth century BC gold helmet engraved with warriors, a spiraling gold bracelet with animals, a statue of a sea goddess, and a Chinese lacquer box from the first century.

The insurance estimate of the entire collection was about $2 million, but Crimean museums said that some artifacts are very unique and would cost much more if auctioned off.

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