Press Room

Restoration of the national heritage – Repatriation of Koson gold coins from Ireland

Type: 
Press release
Date: 
07/26/12

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes the decision of Irish judiciary authorities on account of which goods belonging to the national heritage of Romania were returned.

Following a complex judicial cooperation demarche, conducted over about 16 months, between Romanian institutions – the Ministry of Administration and Interior, the Public Ministry, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the National Museum of History of Romania, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Embassy of Romania in Dublin – and Ireland’s National Police Service, two Dacian gold coins of the Koson type were recovered and will be repatriated to Romania. The heritage goods are to return to Romania on 26 July 2012.

After repatriation they will enrich the heritage of Romania, as part of the collection of the National History Museum of Romania.

This is the outcome of successful application of the UNIDROIT Convention. Moreover, it is for the first time that the Romanian authorities succeed, based on a judgment issued by a court in the European Union, in recouping certain illegally exported items that surfaced in the international antiques trade.

Background

The two coins are part of the only Dacian issue of gold coins, inscribed on the reverse with the word Koson in Greek letters. The pieces repatriated now originate in a large hoard unearthed following illegal detection activities conducted by members of an organized group acting in the area of Sarmisegetuza Regia, the last capital of free Dacia, an archeological site listed by UNESCO. The coins were taken out from Romania illegally and then surfaced in the international antiques trade.

Between February and July 2011, the Ministry of Administration and Interior, through Romania’s attaché for internal affairs in Dublin, Ireland, conducted a number of intelligence-operative and police cooperation actions based on a request for a rogatory commission initiated by the Public Ministry – the Prosecutor’s Office of the Alba Iulia Appellate Court.

The intense cooperation in the above-mentioned interval was aimed at identifying, locating and seizing a set of Koson gold coins that were going to be put up for sale at an art auction in Dublin.

Based on the elements made available by the Romanian team and on the working meetings with the partners, the coordinates and the location were the auction was to take place were identified. The Irish partners identified the seller and froze the coins.

The freezing of the coins triggered a long, complex judiciary process that took place in Irish courts, the aim being to establish the legal ownership and to return the coins to the Romanian states.