The Hungarian Government has acquired and repatriated seven pieces of the unique, priceless, ancient Roman silver treasure known as the Seuso-treasure

During his extraordinary press conference today at the Parliament, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced that the Hungarian Government repatriated parts of the unique and priceless artifacts known as the Seuso-treasure, which is an ancient Roman hoard of silver objects of exceptional professional craftsmanship.

DownloadPhoto: Gergely Botár

Throughout the last almost 25 years Hungary never abandoned the goal of acquiring this unique trove collection. Simultaneously with continuing verification procedures, the representatives of consecutive Hungarian governments negotiated with the owners of the Seuso-treasure several times, albeit unsuccessfully. Agreements failed due to several factors, including the exorbitant price of the artifacts the owner had intended to sell the Seuso-treasure for tens of billion forints.

The negotiations that finally led to success started around a year ago. During the negotiations State Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázár and director of the Museum of Fine Arts László Baán represented the Hungarian state. The compensation payable for the acquisition was 15 million euros, which – at today’s value - is about one third of the auction price asked for in 1990. The treasure was repatriated to Budapest at the end of last week.

DownloadPhoto: Gergely Botár

The treasure trove, crafted in the 4th century AD, consists of large silver vessels. The best-known piece of the treasure is the plate after which the treasure was named. In the center of the large piece meticulous hunting scenes are framed by Latin signs dedicating the treasure to its presumed owner and his family, while on the plate the word Pelso, the Latin name for Balaton, can be read.

The silver Seuso-treasure consists of fourteen silver vessels used for dining and washing. The Hungarian State has now acquired seven silver pieces of the Seuso-treasure: the Hunting (Seuso) Plate and the Geometric Plate, the two geometric ewers, the Basin, the Casket, the Dionysiac Ewer and the copper cauldron that was used for hiding the treasure 1500 years ago.

The Seuso-treasure was found in the middle of the 1970s around Polgárdi, situated close to Balaton. Despite the international investigation that has been ongoing since then, little is known for certain about their history until their aforementioned appearance at the New York auction in 1990.

DownloadPhoto: Gergely Botár

According to the information available, the fourteen silver pieces known today were purchased by several collectors based on fake Lebanese documents in the beginning and in the middle of the 80s. The sale of the treasure was attempted via the aforementioned New York auction in 1990 by a consortium led by an English aristocrat, Lord Northampton for an auction price amounting to 100 million euros at today’s value.

The acquired treasure can be viewed free of charge from Saturday, March 29, in the building of the Hungarian Parliament. From 2018 onwards it is intended be one of the “gems” of the new museums’ quarter.

(Prime Minister's Office)