Crimean Treasures to go to the Ukrainian State

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Amsterdam, 14 december 2016

The Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam has to hand over the so-called Crimean Treasures to the Ukrainian State and not to the Crimean Museums. This was determined today by the Amsterdam District Court. The artefacts and treasures are allowed to remain in the Netherlands as long as an appeal in the case is possible.

The Amsterdam District Court delivered its judgement today in a case that was initiated by four museums in Crimea (together, the Crimean Museums) and the Ukrainian State against the Allard Pierson Museum. Both the Ukrainian State and the Crimean Museums lay claim to the Crimean Treasures, a collection of artefacts which was lent to the Allard Pierson Museum by the Crimean Museums in 2014. After Crimea separated itself from Ukraine in 2014, it was no longer clear to the Allard Pierson Museum to whom the artefacts should be returned. Therefore, the Museum decided to retain possession of the artefacts for the time being.

Crimean Treasures are part of Ukrainian heritage

The District Court now rules that the artefacts have to be handed over to the Ukrainian State, partly because these artefacts are part of the cultural heritage of the country. The District Court determined that the Crimean Museums' claim that the treasures are part of the cultural heritage of Crimea or of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was incorrect, as neither is a (sovereign) state. Furthermore, Crimea was part of the Ukrainian State at the time the artefacts were lent to the Allard Pierson Museum.

Although two parties lay claim to the Crimean Treasures, the District Court does not deliver a judgement on who is the rightful owner of the artefacts. The law states that this question has to be answered by a Ukrainian court after the artefacts have been returned to Ukraine.

The Treasures will remain in the Netherlands

All parties now have three months to appeal the District Court's judgement. In the case that this judgment is reversed, it would be impossible for the Allard Pierson Museum to return the Crimean Treasures to the Crimean Museums if the treasures had already been delivered to Ukraine. Therefore, the Crimean Treasures will remain in storage at the Allard Pierson Museum for the duration of the appeal's process.

Compensation for the Allard Pierson Museum

The District Court also ruled that the joining of Crimea to the Russian Federation is a change in circumstances that justified the termination of the artefact loan agreements and that the Allard Pierson Museum has rightfully not handed over the artefacts to the Crimean Museums. Lastly, the Ukrainian State has to refund the costs for the temporary storage of the artefacts, which comes to an amount of approximately 111,000 Euros. The District Court also ruled that the Crimean Museums have to pay a total of approximately 2,800 Euros in legal costs to the Ukrainian State and the Allard Pierson Museum.

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