Almost a year after a jury in New York State Supreme Court affirmed Lord Northampton’s ownership of the Sevso treasure, the fourteen-pieces of Roman silver valued at some $100 million still remains in storage in Manhattan. The silver also remains in court. As this story goes to press, a ruling is expected on a petition brought by the Republic of Croatia for the verdict affirming Lord Northampton’s title to be heard by the New York State Court of Appeals, the State’s highest judicial body. Croatia’s initial appeal of the jury decision had already lost at the appellate division, an intermediate level. The case on which the jury ruled hinged on whether the Sevso treasure was the property of Croatia or Hungary, both of which claimed the objects as national patrimony.
Hungary’s appeal of the verdict in New York, which that government’s lawyers made in the spring, still awaits a decision at the appellate division. The silver cannot leave the jurisdiction of the New York State courts until all appeals have been exhausted. In Croatia, a thief who has claimed for years that he knows the secret history of the Sevso treasure, has been moved to a maximum-security prison. While on leave from a minimum-security institution, Aleksander Miles was found attempting to steal oil paintings from a villa in one of Zagreb’s wealthier districts. Miles was able to take a policeman hostage before he was arrested and moved to Lepoglava Prison. At Lepoglava, Miles’s attempt at suicide by jumping from a one hundred-foot chimney was foiled by the tree on which he landed.
The prisoner is widely thought to be psychotic, but researchers who have studied the Sevso case believe he may still have some solid information about art smuggling in the former Yugoslavia, where the silver is thought either to have been found or transported.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Sevso silver still in court'