Looted 18th century crown returned to Ethiopia after decades
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — A rare and looted crown from the 18th century was returned to Ethiopia on Thursday after it was discovered in the Netherlands.
The Dutch government facilitated the handover “with the belief that it has a duty to restitute this important artifact back to Ethiopia,” the office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said, sharing photos of a smiling Abiy holding the ceremonial crown.
The religious crown went missing in 1993 and was discovered in Rotterdam in October.
Ethiopia, like many African nations, has been outspoken about its interest in seeing artifacts returned home from museums and private owners around the world.
The Dutch government in a statement said the crown was the property of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It said the crown went missing from the Holy Trinity Church in the village of Cheleqot.
For years the crown was in the hands of Sirak Asfaw, a Dutch national of Ethiopian origin, the statement said. He reached out to the foreign ministry last year “through the mediation of art detective Arthur Brand, to discuss how to return this important cultural artifact.”
The Dutch minister for foreign trade, Sigrid Kaag, attended the handover ceremony.
“We’re honored and delighted to have been able to facilitate the rightful return,” Kaag said.