Anna van Densky The ambivalent situation around the collection of Scythian gold exhibited in Amsterdam occurred after the Crimean referendum (March 16, 2014), leading to the unification with the Russian Federation, assessed by the EU as “annexation“. Both museums of the Republic of Crimea and Ukrainian state claimed their rights for the treasures of art. In response the Amsterdam Museum have frozen the transfer of property until the dispute is settled on a legal basis or until the parties reach a peace agreement.
Crimean museums insist that they had received most artifacts from the disputed Scythian gold collection before Ukraine declared independence, Director of the Central Museum of Tavrida Andrei Malgin, said to TASS Russian news Agency. According to international rules, Dutch museum, where the collection was exposed, should return them to the parties that provided the treasures for an exhibition, he added.
“Our main argument is that these items were excavated in Crimea and were kept in Crimean museums, so Crimea has stronger ownership rights. We insist that this is part of the Crimean people’s cultural heritage. Crimean museums have owned a large number of the items since the Soviet era or even since pre-Revolution times (1917),” Malgin underlined.
Crimean museums have documents proving that they owned these treasures long before Ukraine became independent, he explained.
Malgin reminded that that a whole exhibited collection of various items from different museums had been sent to the Netherlands to be displayed in an art event. At the time of the exhibition, the items formally belonged to Ukraine’s Museum Collections on display in Crimean museums. Even after world wars, many treasures returned to the museums from which they had been pillaged, Malgin reminded .
The Amsterdam Court of Appeal postponed a verdict in the Scythian gold case, requesting the parties to provide further information, particularly on the ownership rights. According to the judges, the parties have been given two months to provide the requested information. “A final judgment may be expected in six to nine months’ time,” the Court pointed out. Until then, the Scythian gold collection will be kept at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam.
The Republic of Crimea historians, and art historians have certain fears the decision of the Court will be entirely politicized is spite of their rights to keep heritage in the Republic of Crimea, where it belongs.
The Scythian gold is a collection of more than two thousand artifacts with an insurance estimated value of about $2 million, which were included into the exhibition “Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea”, held from February to August 2014 at the Allard Pearson Museum Amsterdam.
Next year Crimea commemorates hundred years of “Russian State” on its territory, the stronghold of the monarchists, losing the Civil war to Bolsheviks, after the collapse of the Russian Empire. Tragically the White Army soldiers in Crimea were tricked by the promises of amnesty if they surrendered, the estimated number of following Red Terror executions vary from 50,000 to 120,000 people.
А total of 145,693 White guards and civilians were saved in evacuation by sea (pictured below) by the end of 1920, however they did not take with them any artifacts from museums and palaces of Crimea, departing with a hope to return.