The Netherlands Will Return an Eighteenth-Century Crown to Ethiopia
The priceless crown was found by a former refugee who hid it in his apartment for two decades.
An eighteenth-century Ethiopian crown has been in the possession of Sirak Asfaw, a former refugee and now Dutch citizen, for the past twenty years. The AFP reports that Asfaw discovered the stolen crown in a suitcase that had been left by one one of many fellow Ethiopian guests who passed through his apartment in Rotterdam, Netherlands. After Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was elected to power in April 2018 and parliament went on to appoint Sahle-Work Zewde as Ethiopia's first woman president in October of the same year, Asfaw was confident that the crown would not "disappear" again when it was returned home.
The ornate copper-gilded Ethiopian crown features an image of the Holy Trinity as well as Jesus' apostles and is thought to be one of twenty currently in existence according to the BBC. It is also thought that the crown may have been gifted to a church by the warlord, Welde Sellase, a couple hundred years ago. Describing his discovery of the priceless artifact, Asfaw says that, "I looked into the suitcase and saw something really amazing and I thought 'this is not right. This has been stolen. This should not be here. This belongs to Ethiopia." He adds that, "But I knew if I gave it back, it would just disappear again."
Asfaw then contacted Arthur Brand who is known as the "Indiana Jones of the art world". Brand immediately sought permission from Dutch authorities to have the crown placed in a highly secured facility until its authenticity has been verified by both the Dutch and Ethiopian governments before its return to Addis Ababa. Describing the crown itself, Brand says that, "It's an a amazing piece. It's very big, I feel pity for the people who had to wear it on their heads because when you wear this for a couple of hours your neck hurts."