Turkish museum director fined for letting tea maker paint artifacts

Turkish museum director fined for letting tea maker paint artifacts

Umut Erdem – ANKARA

An Ankara court has ordered the director of the Ankara State Museum of Paintings and Sculptures to pay 1,996 Turkish Liras (approximately $373) in compensation for making the museum’s tea maker paint the frames of 25 artifacts. 

The Ankara 8th Civil Court of First Instance has ruled that the museum director, Ömer Gündoğdu, was at fault for not acting in line with the regulations. “The damage related to this incident [regarding the artifacts] can be reversed for 1,996.20 Turkish Liras by an expert conservator,” it said, citing an expert’s report.

The court’s ruling concerns Gündoğdu’s judgement that tasked Erol Öztürk, who makes tea at the museum, to restore the frames of 25 artifacts in the museum in 2014.

Once the incident emerged, the Culture and Tourism Ministry filed a lawsuit for public loss amounting to 7.3 million Turkish Liras (around $1.3 million) against Gündoğdu.

An expert report prepared on May 10, 2015 stated that six artifacts were damaged up to 10 percent because Gündoğdu “did not act in line” with the regulations of the Culture and Tourism Ministry. But following an appeal against this expert report, the Ankara 8th Civil Court of First Instance of Ankara requested another expert report.

On May 10, 2016, the new expert report declared that the claimed damages in the first expertise were not due to Gündoğdu’s and Öztürk’s misdemeanor but rather they were existent even before the artifacts were delivered to the museum.

The Culture and Tourism Ministry then appealed the local court’s decision to a higher court. But the Ankara Regional Court agreed with the local court’s decision, saying in a ruling dated Feb. 9, 2017 that Gündoğdu cannot be held responsible for the “damages outside the frames” existent on the artifacts.

The ministry then applied to the Court of Cassation, which is the last instance for reviewing verdicts given by courts of criminal and civil justice. The Court of Cassation refused the ministry’s appeal with unanimity in a ruling on June 4, 2018.