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Netherlands’ highest court awards Ukraine’s ‘Crimea gold’


The “Gold of Crimea” was on display in a museum in Amsterdam in 2014. But after the Russian annexation, a dispute broke out over who owns the treasure – the occupiers or the Ukrainian state? The verdict has now been made on this.

A 2,000-year-old gold treasure from four museums in Crimea belongs to Ukraine, according to a court ruling. The High Council of the Netherlands decided in The Hague that the valuable cultural assets must be returned to Ukraine. This confirms a first-instance judgment from 2021 and the legal dispute is over after around seven years.

The cultural treasures of Crimea came to Amsterdam in 2014 and were shown there in the Allard Pierson Museum. The hundreds of objects included the “Scythian gold”, jewels, weapons and masks.

Museums and the Ukrainian state made claims

In spring 2014, Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula. After the end of the exhibition, the Amsterdam museum decided against sending back the precious objects, not knowing who the rightful owner was. Both the four museums, now under Russian administration, and the Ukrainian state made claims.

But the courts in all instances ruled that Ukraine was the legal owner. “The State of Ukraine has a legitimate interest in protecting its cultural heritage,” the Supreme Council ruled.

The “Crimean Gold” is in the care of the Amsterdam Museum in a secret location. The showpieces include a 2,400-year-old helmet worn by the Scythians, as well as 2,000-year-old Chinese lacquered boxes from the Han Dynasty, filigree brooches, and a golden scabbard.